The Famous Writer Ye Shit-Tao born in Tainan said: ” Tainan is a perfect place for dreaming, working, falling in love, getting married and living. ” Many historical sites in Tainan such as Grand Matsu Temple, Confucius Temple, Chihkan Tower, Hayashi Department Store and National Museum of Taiwan Literature (former Tainan Prefectural Government) often appeared in his writings. In his opinion, Tainan is a great place for living.
National Museum of Taiwan Literature(NMTL) is one of these tourist attractions located in downtown. This building has a distinguished history tracing back to 1916 full of an elegant atmosphere. You could see the exhibition, read, participate in cultural activities or enjoy the spirit joyfully in this quaint museum. Come with parents, friends or children because age is no limitation here. Everyone can find their own silent corner and immerse yourself in the beauty of literature.
We cordially invite you to visit NMTL. Start your Fantastic trip in Tainan from here. You will figure out why Tainan is a perfect place for living. Don’t forget to make yourself available for historic relics and food nearby.
The opening hours is 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M(Closed on Mondays)
NMTL Official website
Taiwan’s heart beats with the incalculable joys, sorrows, loves and disappointments of its many groups. Authors of different ethnic backgrounds and experiences have through the generations invested their talents to sense and put into words the pulse that defines their place and time. Themes of discord and reconciliation hold prominent places in their work, highlighting Taiwan literature’s richness and ageless relevance.
Taiwan society today is increasingly ready to accept and even embrace external cultural mores. Our authors observe, record and interpret the whispers of history. They also confirm the value of cultural diversity. The idea of a multiethnic melting pot may aptly be used to describe the ebb and flow of development in Taiwan literature and culture as well as to expound upon its present and future. This permanent exhibit is designed to open a window on the rich diversity of Taiwan literature’s inner world. The exhibition' s three sections, Call of the Mountains and Sea, Disparate Dialogues, and Literature' s Bright Future, center on key works of literature that address the three issue areas of nature, society and modernization. When contrasted against contemporary political and economic realities, literary efforts offer shining examples of their authors’ spirit and hope. It is the author' s desire to achieve mutual understanding and explain perspectives and opinions that has made Taiwan' s literary garden bloom and flourish.
Ten authors, 6 books, 3 literary controversies, 2 cultural organizations, 1 inscription, and 7 tasks are interwoven into an intellectually and physically challenging experience that traverses space and time, with 245,760 different potential outcomes. Visitors with interests in literature and time-travel adventure are invited to enter the game as a digital explorer. Use your unique social experience and in-game contacts with and exploration of authors from various walks of life to collect information on valuable artifacts in the NMTL.
Expanding into the growing economies of Southeast Asia was the dream of every earnest businessman in Taiwan during the early decades of the 20th century.
Ting-lan Tsai, a Qing government official and native of Taiwan's Penghu Archipelago, was the first Taiwanese known to have written a travelogue of his experiences overseas, after being shipwrecked along the coast of Central Vietnam in 1836. The trickle of Taiwanese into the region over the subsequent century significantly increased after the start of the Pacific War in 1941 when Japan, of which Taiwan was a colony, occupied much of the region.
This exhibition begins with the historically important cross-border marriage between two powerful families in, respectively, Banqiao (northern Taiwan) and Medan (northern Sumatra, Indonesia). This ' joining of forces' set the framework for the introduction and transformation of classical Taiwanese poetry in Southeast Asia.
Queeny Chang's autobiography Memories of a Peranakan sets the stage for this exhibition' s introduction to how Taiwanese classical poetry traditions took root and ultimately thrived in the 'Southern Realms'. From the distinct and circumspect perspective of Peranakan women, this exhibition reveals the unique set of historical conditions that led Taiwan' s Lin family to breach national and, linguistic to form indelible links with its new home in Southeast Asia. It created a unique body of work that added beautiful new threads to this region's richly polychromatic tapestry.
This exhibition is dedicated to the Mainlander soldiers, who thought were just temporarily retreating in 1949, their families, their descendants, as well as all the groups that have lived with them for seventy years.
The title of the exhibition, "The Inn", has two meanings. First, it is, literally, a journey full of difficulties. Second, its original meaning is an inn that receives guests as in Li Bai’s poem” Preface to the Feast in Peach and Plum Garden on a Spring Night”: “The universe is a temporary inn for all living things and time is a transient visitor going through hundreds of generations.”
Everyone on this island is, in fact, just a passing immigrant arriving at different times, gathering together due to chances. Taiwan is an inn under a starry night. It welcomes all visitors regardless of their differences.
How should we present the migrant literature since 1949? If we only focus on the homesickness of this group of people, the subjects of description are probably too far away for others to relate to themselves. If we only focus on the impression that other groups have to them, most impressions might be only stereotypes. In fact, there are more moments of understanding and misunderstanding, and more contradicting interactions between “this group of people” and “that group of people” – especially in literary works.
Of course, "this group of people" is not a homogeneous collection. There are always divisions within people. The lines of divisions are drawn never simply based on “provincial citizenship”. The gap between the rich and the poor, the differences in background, the hostilities among different classes, and the oppositions of interests are all sources of conflicts. Similarly, “Taiwan post-war immigrants” also include high-ranking officials, middle-class groups, military villagers, as well as marginalized minorities. Together, they all endured a preposterous change, and unexpectedly, embarked on a journey of life. Seventy years have passed, and Taiwan has to stop the stereotypes of “old taro”, “mainlanders”, and “old veterans”.
In literature, we will see the humanity and compassion under the giant wheel of 1949.
Lin Heng-tai, a laureate of the 8th National Awards for Art, was a member of Modernism (poetry society) and a founding member of the Li (Bamboo Hat) Poetry Society, in which he served as its first editor-in-chief. He is both a poet and poetry critic. Lin hails from the generation that lived through Taiwan's linguistic watershed in the 1940s when Japanese, the language of colonial-era Taiwan, was jettisoned and replaced with Mandarin Chinese after the island's repatriation to China after the Second World War.
This exhibition displays prized, handwritten works of the author that were donated to the museum. The layout complements his famous poem "Landscape No. 2", allowing visitors to enjoy views of nearby Tang Te-chang Memorial Park and Yuanhuan Road while moving through the exhibition space. Lin Heng-tai's every line inspires readers to seek and discover the rich scenes woven into his poetry.
Take the elevator from the 1st Floor Hall of Literary Arts to the library located on the 1st level basement (B1). Natural lighting bathes the library and its various sections. With a focus on Taiwan literature, the library presents an extensive collection of relevant books and related materials. Atmosphere entwines with content to provide the ideal environment to immerse oneself in local literature and experience the vitality that underpins Taiwan’s literary heritage.
Open 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Welcome to the National Museum of Taiwan Literature.
Our Museum will undergo a hallway renovation. In consideration of visitors’ safety and to maintain a better service quality during the renovation period, the opening hours of the Museum will be revised as follows and effective from April 1, 2014.
Tuesday ~ Thursday & Sunday 09:00~18:00
Friday ~ Saturday 09:00~21:00
■Admission is free. Inquiry, lockers, broadcast, audio guide and wheel chair rental are offered at the information counter.
■In consideration of other visitors, please do not talk loudly, run or play inside the museum.
■Smoking or chewing betel nut/gum are prohibited in the museum. Pets(except guide dogs), food and drink are not permitted inside the facility.
■The museum does not permit filming or photography for commercial use. Photography for personal is permitted in accordance with museum regulations. Flash photography is prohibited in exhibit rooms.
■ Visitors who drive can get a parking permit at the service counter.
■Please check all bags, purses and other items at the Service Counter before entering the B1-level library area.
The Children’s Literature Reading Room is located on the 1st floor of the left wing of NMTL’s main building. The primarily culture-themed books in this room’s collection are suited for young readers (0~13 years of age) and for family reading. Reading room sections include: Taiwan Literature, Reference Books, Children’s Literature, Young Adult Literature, Special Recommendations, The Family Reading Zone, and Periodicals. The room’s regular schedule of educational activities is carefully designed to stimulate a love in children for reading and knowledge through book exhibits, story readings, family-focused activities, and workshops.
Hours: 09:00-12:00 & 13:00-18:00 (Tue – Sun); closed daily from 12:00~13:00. The NMTL is closed on Mondays.
To maintain the quality of the reading room environment, we ask that visitors respect the following:
The maximum capacity of the reading room is 50 persons.
No food or drinks are permitted in the reading room.
Reading room books do not circulate and may not be taken outside of the room.
Please, no loud voices, running, or playing in the reading room.
For groups -- Please make a reservation in advance prior to using the reading room.
This area, an extension of the museum, is a great place to continue your journey of discovery while at the NMTL, offering diversity, welcoming warmth, and an atmosphere of comfort and congeniality.
Welcome to the NMTL Shop! Browse the selection of books and souvenirs; experience the warmth of our hospitality; and discover for yourself how our century-old building is being infused with exciting new vitality.
The process of weaving the essence and spirit of literature into creative products has been likened to the intricate process of spinning silk from a cocoon. Inspiration and practiced artistic skill are essential to crafting distinctively unique products that both celebrate our literary heritage and fit comfortably into our lives.
Moreover, products displayed and sold in the NMTL Shop are largely designed and manufactured in Taiwan, reflecting NMTL’s commitment to creating a Taiwan literary brand image; to developing NMTL-exclusive items; and to taking advantage of the high quality and value of fine, Made in Taiwan products.
Location: 1st Floor of the Main NMTL Building (just off of the central hall)
Hours: 10:00-18:00 (Tue – Sun); Tel: 06-2217201 ext. 2960
Retail Scope: 1. NMTL publications; 2. NMTL-authorized products; 3. special-exhibition catalogues; 4. souvenirs.
Purchasing Information: The NMTL Shop accepts major credit cards and offers mailing services for purchased items. Except for special event promotions, the shop assesses normal fees for mailing services. All are welcome to download and use the online NMTL Shop order form.
※Taiwan Traveler Card-designated Store: Yes
NMTL Publications Discount Promotion: Visit the NMTL on the first weekend of the month, purchase one or more NMTL books and/or other publications from the NMTL Shop and receive a 25% discount at checkout. (valid for NMTL-published items only)
The National Museum of Taiwan Literature (NMTL) makes its home in a century-old national historic building. During routine repairs, workers stumbled upon a ‘time wormhole’ in the area now occupied by Exhibition Room B. This wormhole fits serendipitously with NMTL’s ongoing study of Taiwan literature from the Japanese-ruled period (1895-1945).
NMTL researchers have succeeded in collecting through the wormhole many items that have since been officially categorized as either of significant or general importance. Researchers are also very anxious to further clarify historical data and, as much as possible, to meet face-to-face with authors from this period.
However, there is the risk that the enthusiasm of our modern time travelers may catch these authors unawares, making them suspicious and reluctant to talk. So, in the interests of literary research and of collecting more firsthand accounts of history, the NMTL has widened its search for volunteers who can help our researchers communicate with historical authors. We are looking for people LIKE YOU, with an interest in literature and a taste for time-travel adventure, to be transformed by the latest modern technology into a digital Adventurer.
We need YOU to use your unique social experience and your contact with and exploration of authors from various walks of life to help our researchers collect information on valuable artifacts for the NMTL.
We’re all set! Are you ready to start?
National Museum of Taiwan Literature is Taiwan’s first national museum devoted to literature. This majestic, elegant building was built by the Japanese colonial government in 1916 to house the Tainan Prefectural Government, and a technician from the Construction and Maintenance Office under the Office of the Governor-general named Moriyama Matsunosuke designed it. Moriyama, who lived in Taiwan approximately 14 years, was involved in the construction of the Office of the Governor-general Building (now the Presidential Office Building), but he also left behind many other public buildings, such as the Taipei Prefectural Office, Taichung Prefectural Office, and Tainan District Court. The Tainan Prefectural Government Building that you are now standing in is built mostly with red brick. From the present display, you can get a glimpse of the structure of the foundation below, in which ground beams made of brick arches effectively disperse and transmit the weight of the building. During World War II, when this building was hit by Allied bombers, the mansard roof was destroyed. After the war, it was used in turn by the Air Force Supply Command and the Tainan City Government. In 1997, restoration of the entire structure began, and the old building was given new life as the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, which was formally opened on October 17th, 2003.
Welcome to the National Museum of Taiwan Literature’s permanent display, “The Inner World of Taiwan Literature.” Within the island of Taiwan, many different ethnic groups who arrived at various periods through history, each speaking different languages and living different lifestyles, are gathered together, thereby creating a rich cultural environment. The inner world of Taiwan literature also reflects this reality. Writers of different ethnic groups have all breathed the same air on this island, and each has individually responded to the pulse of his or her time, and whether the outcome is a literature that blends and homogenizes, or seeks to overcome and resist, the literature of other groups, or whether or not it is “nostalgia literature,” it is all part of Taiwan’s colorful literature. To present the diversity of the inner world of Taiwan literature, the permanent display is now divided into three main areas—“The Call of the Mountains and Sea,” “Disparate Dialogues,” and “Literature’s Bright Future”—which aim to present the spirits and aspirations of Taiwanese writers through representative literary works from three angles, respectively, nature, society, and modernization. It seeks mutual understanding and interpretive possibilities for building up the rich, multifaceted Taiwan literary tradition.
Taiwan, at latitude 23 degrees north and longitude 121 degrees east, is at the intersection of global shipping lanes, and it enjoys a reputation as “the beautiful isle Formosa” for its imposing mountains and great seascapes. From antiquity to the present, the native peoples who crossed over after a great flood, or later migrants who were shipwrecked here in typhoons or who risked the sea crossing due to economic or political factors, left behind countless moving documents, oral tales, and literary works that recorded their impressions of Taiwan. In this area, “The Call of the Mountains and Sea,” we use the image of the “floating island” as a motif for the prehistoric sea crossings that brought the ancestors of native peoples here, and it also encompasses the theme of Koxinga crossing over to Taiwan. The area subtitled “The Spirit of the Mountains and Sea” shows the nostalgic literary world centering on scenery. And the section called “Copying the Mountains and Sea” shows writers who not only recorded nature but also expressed their complex feelings of what they encountered in Taiwan. Thus, the interaction between people and their geographical space is at the center of this area. We expect that you will see the great diversity within the literary works of these writers.
Please remember that a video on the arched glass before you that introduces Taiwan literature begins every hour and at 20 and 40 minutes after each hour, and please take the time to enjoy it.
Literature begins its journey the instant a writer’s pen or brush touches the paper. A writer’s spirit dances, runs, and soars with each word. Whether crossing mountains and seas, enduring life’s hardships, or advancing into a glorious future, each composition is like a movement in a symphony that the writer composes with the literary world, and it may be expressive of sadness, joy, love, or desire. Listen, and then listen again. Close your eyes…. Look, and look again. Open your ears—between the space of two periods the world turns, and the rays of hope shine through life’s window, casting the whole spectrum of colors. This is Taiwan literature, and when we enter it, we also join it on its journey….
In 1895, Taiwan was ceded to Japan. After an initial period of armed repression, the Japanese sent a number of explorers with anthropological backgrounds into the mountains in order to prepare to exploit the natural resources there. Men like Torii Ryuzō, Inō Kanori, and Mori Ushinosuke arrived in Taiwan one after the other to lead expeditions and surveys in order to learn more about the culture of Taiwan’s various native groups. At the time, the Japanese government referred to the native people living in the high mountain areas seiban or “raw barbarians.” The book before you, Collected Legends of the Raw Barbarians was published in 1923 by Sayama Yūkichi and Ōnishi Yoshihisa. Sayama had participated in these anthropological surveys for a decade and was the chief editor of an eight-volume collection of survey reports on the indigenous peoples. In the Japanese perspective, it was necessary to understand the legends passed down from the seiban’s ancestors in order to understand their thought and culture. The Collected Legends takes an anthropological field study approach to collect legends of Taiwan’s various indigenous peoples. The unusual illustrations and design for Sayama and Ōnishi’s book was the work of the artist Shiotsuiki Tōho, who taught art at Taihoku High School and created many oil paintings focusing on Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.
1911 was the first year of Japan’s Taishō era, and in October of that year, which was a xinhai year on the traditional Chinese calendar, China had its Republican revolution. In February of that year, Liang Qichao, who had fled to Japan after the Hundred Day’s Reform of 1898, traveled to Taiwan for fourteen days with his daughter Liang Silan, at the invitation of Lin Xiantang, a member of the Wufeng, Taichung Lin family. After disembarking at the port of Keelung and meeting with leading gentry in Dadaocheng, Taipei over a banquet, they went south to Taichung. This was Liang Qichao’s only trip to Taiwan. What touched off the Hundred Day’s Reform was the 1895 Treaty of Shimoseki, which ceded Taiwan and Liaodong to Japan. When news of this reached Beijing, it triggered the “Public Vehicle Petition” or gongche shangshu movement, during which leading intellectuals demanded that the Guangxu Emperor launch reforms. After the failure of the Hundred Day’s Reform, Liang Qichao fled to Japan, but inadvertently this also gave him the chance to visit Taiwan. Thus he was quite deeply moved when he finally stepped foot onto this island now under Japanese control. Although his trip was a short one, he was very inspired by it and wrote 89 poems and 12 song lyrics. He had originally intended for these to be published together as a single volume entitled Song of the Mangrove Crabapple, but unfortunately he never managed to do so, so there has never been a definitive edition of this series in circulation.
Belief in the goddess Mazu followed the migration of Han Chinese from the Minnan region to Taiwan, and after taking root here, it became the focus of folk religion in Taiwan. However, the Mazu magazine you see here was not established by Taiwanese. This was a general interest magazine that included poetry, essays, and translated works that were not necessarily related at all to Mazu, but at the end of each volume there would be a short essay introducing the goddess. Mazu magazine was printed and distributed by Maso shobō or “Mazu Bookstore” by the Japanese writer Nishikawa Mitsuru and ran from 1934 to March 1938. Each edition was limited to 300 copies, finely printed on handmade paper, and the covers were prints made by the painters Tateisihi Tetsuomi or Miyata Yatorō. Nishikawa Mitsuru was born in Fukujima Prefecture, Japan and followed his father to Taiwan when he was only three. Except for the years he spent studying French at Waseda University, he spent the thirty years of his youth in Taiwan. Through his eyes and pen, Taiwan was a place full of beautiful, romantic, exotic moods. Nishikawa put even more emphasis on the design of books than the content. He collected more than 20,000 finely made books, which he donated after he died to Taiwan’s Aletheia University.
Chingpu (Jingpu) is an Ami settlement on the right bank of the Hsiukuluan (Xiuguluan) River where it passes from the mountains and flows into the Pacific Ocean. It is located in Fengpin Township, Hualien County. Legend has it that the Ami ancestors arrived here after drifting at sea. Their descendants multiplied, and so this place is considered one of the places of origin for the Ami people. In 1878, the Amis were massacred at Chingpu after resisting the stationing of Qing troops in the area—this came to be called the “Chingpu Incident.” It was not until the 1980s that the livelihood and development of indigenous people began to attract the attention of Taiwanese society. At the same time, indigenous literature was also beginning to flourish. Child of the Amis of Chingpu was published in April 1984; in June the same year, when a cave-in occurred at a coal mine in Tucheng, Taipei County, it was found that more than half the victims were indigenous people, and the greatest number among them were Ami. All at one time were children who ran and shouted among the fields on the East Coast. The original name of the author of this book, Lin Fan, is Lin Ruiming (Lin Jui-ming). He is both a poet who writes realistic poetry with a strong symbolic flavor and a historian who once served as the director of this museum.
The Tamsui River, this most important of Taiwan’s rivers, flows through Taiwan’s most densely populated region, so it has gathered many collective memories, and many stories, both happy and sad, have come to be attached to it. Wang Changxiong (Chang-hsiung), who was born in 1916, grew up on Chongjian St. (Ch’ung-chien St.) behind Tamsui’s Mazu temple. Minnan-styled redbrick buildings built in jumbled layers on a slope, the Tamsui River, and Mount Kuanyin were the sights he would see every day when he stepped outdoors. When Wang Zhangxiong was 25 years old, he wrote his first story, a novella entitled Ripples on the Tamsui River. The inspiration for this title came from the well-known tune, “Waves of the Danube,” and the novella tells a tragic love story. The main male character is a boatman on the Tamsui River, and the entire story takes place on the river or in the villages along it. As a young man Wang Zhangxiong went to Japan to study and had wanted to study literature, but later on, to meet his family’s expectations for him, he switched to studying dentistry and became a dentist. After returning to Taiwan, he opened a clinic in Tamsui. The meaningful lyrics for the famous old Taiwanese song, “If You Open the Windows of Your Heart,” were also written by Wang Zhangxiong, to music written by Lü Quansheng (Ch’üan-sheng).
How long has it been since you walked out to the fields barefoot and felt the mud beneath your feet? Perhaps you have never done this before. People nowadays, with their urban lifestyles, are used to the feel of hard concrete but are unfamiliar with the warmth and sticky moistness of mud—there is an indescribable separation between them and the land. The poet Wu Sheng, who comes from a family that for generations lived in the village of Tsun-liao (Zunliao, in Hsi-chou (Xizhou) Township, Changhua County, wrote many poems, such as “Carrying Lotus,” “Don’t Be Alarmed by How Cold the Paddy Water Is,” and the “Potato Map,” that are now familiar to students through their Chinese literature textbooks. His poems and essays focus on Taiwan rural life and are concerned with issues pertaining to farming villages, politics, and the environment. In the pale, rootless poetry of modernity, they are firmly grounded in real, nonfantasized rural soil. And what is this “rural soil”? Wu Sheng thinks it is mud, and that all literature comes from the land. This poetry transcript by Wu Sheng, titled Mud, is written from the perspective of a boy and describes his mother, who has a close relationship with the muddy soil. The unadorned, sincere style of the manuscript seems to express the personality of the man who wrote it, and it echoes the consistent style of Wu Sheng’s works.
Communication is the beginning of “dialogue,” but before the dialogue begins, “listening” is even more important. Reading literature is like using your eyes to listen—from silent written words, one listens to the voices of other life experiences, and the moment you begin reading, that’s when the dialogue begins. The various ethnic groups who have settled in or passed through Taiwan have all left historical traces from the oppression, resistance, and conflicts they have experienced, but in the end they must explore and learn to respect one another’s differences. “Competition” and “coexistence,” the interactions among people, are the main themes of this area, called “Disparate Dialogues.” The colorful texts that describe how the various peoples sometimes come into conflict with each other and sometimes work together in harmony bear witness to a “competition and harmonization” process. Moreover, the literary works of various genres, languages, and forms create a literary space of “coexistence and difference,” and they show the focal concerns of writers in different periods. How can everyone get along and thrive together? You are you, I am me—how can we become “us”? Come along and let your eyes do the listening.
The writer Li Tong, who was born in Hualien, settled in Lotung, Ilan County. He is a prolific writer whose works cover many genres, but he is most famous for his children’s literature and young adult fiction, which are very popular among younger readers. Many of his works relate to Taiwan’s geography and environment, particular around Ilan. Young Kebalan is Li Tong’s representative work. Its protagonist is a student in his second year of junior high school who is a descendent of the Kebalan tribe. One day, when sheltering from the rain in the Tiangong Temple at Dali, at the entrance to the Caoling Footpath, there is a lightning strike, and he is suddenly transported back in time from 1991 to 1800, the time when Wu Sha is leading the first Han Chinese settlement of the Lanyang Plain. Through a series of strange encounters, he returns to his ancestral town, Kaliwan, and experiences the life of his people and gets to know his great-grandfather, who is still a child. The Kebalan were the last of the plains tribes to be Sinicized. They lived originally on the Lanyang Plain, but after the Han Chinese settled there, they were forced to move to the Hualien and Taitung areas. For bringing together historical, land, and genealogies to create a tale with a strong sense of history with a local flavor, Shaonian Kamalan is considered Li Tong’s representative work.
The writer and critic Li Qiao (Chiao) has produced a wide range of works but has dedicated himself primarily to the writing of novels, for which he is best known. The manuscript you are looking at now is the preface to the first volume of his “Cold Night” trilogy, which was published around 1980. The three volumes, entitled Cold Night, The Lonely Lantern, and Deserted Village, have a total of around a million Chinese characters. The story begins a few years before Taiwan’s colonization by the Japanese and extends through the entire Japanese colonial period, and it traces two families’ development of their land across three generations, so it is in one sense a story of the land. In an agrarian society, the land was people’s only support, so the labor, tears, and bloodshed involved in obtaining land and defending it makes the story one of many conflicts and hardships. In writing the Cold Night Trilogy, Li Qiao examined historical documents, did many field studies, and interviewed elderly people for their stories. Many episodes go far beyond what any ordinary novelist can imagine. Cold Night is also the first novel to have been serialized as a Hakka-language drama for PTS’ Literary Dramas series.
This mysterious black box is the kind you’ll see in stage magic performances. Just touch the switch and the performance will begin for you. The first skit is adapted from Lin Haiyin’s 1957 work, Crabshell Cakes, and performed by the Green Light Troupe. The setting is a family-run shop selling soybean milk, and all kinds of accents are gathered here as the stories of migrants arriving here from other provinces play out.
The magic theater is a high-tech, computer-controlled place with real props and it uses projection, mirrors, and 3D animation effects to bring realistic scenes as if by magic before your eyes. The stage rotates 360 degrees, and scenes change automatically. Each skit lasts around seven minutes. You should pause to enjoy the amazing visual effects.
Zhong Zhaozheng, born in 1925, is a writer who straddled the generations in terms of language. Before the age of twenty, he received a Japanese education. After World War II, he worked hard to study Chinese. At first, he still thought and prepared drafts in Japanese, which he then arduously translated into Chinese. Later on he discovered that he still had the opportunity to publish things written in the language he had just learned, and that becoming an “author” was not an impossible dream. In 1961, he published the Braving Turbid Waters trilogy and became the first person in Taiwan to create a roman-fleuve or novel series. In 1967, he published the first volume of his next series, the Taiwanese People trilogy, which was entitled Submergence. The next two volumes, Song of the Deep Blue Sea and Song of Mount Chatian. The trilogy form originated with the ancient Greek tragedies, which came in sets of three, but later the term came to be applied to any literary work that has three parts that can stand alone but are also connected to each other. Zhong Zhaozheng is a Hakka writer from Longtan, in Taoyuan County, which is also one of the Taiwanese People trilogy’s settings. It describes a large clan whose members are engaged in tea cultivation, and the story takes place against the background of Japanese rule. Using the lives of Hakka people in Taiwan as its source material, it dissects the colonial treatment of the Taiwanese, as well as their resistance to colonialism.
Qi Bangyuan, a scholar, began her work translating Chinese works into English and introducing the international community to Taiwanese literature during the 1970s, thereby laying a foundation for their interaction. The thick manuscript that you are now looking at is The Juliu River was written by Qi over a period of four years when she was already in her eighties. The Juliu River is an alternate name for the Liao River in China’s Northeast; the local Liaoning people also call it “Muqinhe” or “Mother River.” Qi Bangyuan was born in Liaoning, and her father Qi Shiying was a patriot and idealist who fought with the “Juliuhe Force.” After its defeat in 1925, the Qi family fled their homeland and later lived through the War of Resistance against Japan as well as the civil war between the KMT and Communist forces. They moved frequently before finally coming to Taiwan. The Juliu River is part autobiography, part memoir, but not entirely, since Qi Bangyuan does not use first-person narration. Instead, in steady, even tones, she narrates the great eras she lived through, starting from her time near the Juliu River beyond the Great Wall and ending at Yakouhai, on the coast near Hengchun in Taiwan. It records from memory the difficult history of a family through China’s modern period, and it is also relates the timeless history of the struggles that women have endured.
Acacia trees in the early days were the most important source of lumber for making charcoal, so they were widely planted throughout Taiwan’s low mountain areas. In the flower season, the trees are covered with beautiful yellow flowers. The poet Du-Pan Fangge (Tu-Pan Fang-ko), was born in Hsinpu, in Hsinchu County, in 1927. She received a Japanese education and spoke Hakka at home, but she became most fluent in Japanese. In 1965, she joined a poetry society with the most pronounced nativist consciousness, the Li Poetry Society. With her fellow poets’ encouragement, she worked hard to overcome her difficulties with Chinese, and in 1968 she published this poem, “Acacia Tree,” in Chinese. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Du-Pan Fangge tried writing in Hakka, and she became the first woman in Taiwan to write modern poetry in Hakka. This poem manuscript is the Hakka version of “Acacia Tree,” and you can see all kinds of emendations marked between the lines, as if she were searching for just the right words in the language most familiar in her mind. As a woman writing poetry, Du-Pan Fangge has had to switch between the two difficult roles of being a mother and a poet, but she always finds unadorned, approachable language to project for us a multilayered image of Taiwanese women.
Walis Naqang’s Atayal Footprints, published in 1991, is Taiwan’s first short story collection in an indigenous language. The Atayal language text is printed with the Roman alphabet, with facing text in Chinese, and it contains seven short stories plus ten “ancestors’ speeches.” At the end are appended a brief introduction to the Atayal language and a lexicon of frequently used words. Walis Naqang, who was born in 1961, is an Atayal from the Mihu settlement in Heping Township, Taichung County. When he was studying at a teachers’ college, he began trying to write. In 1984, through reports in the magazine Summer Tide, he learned more about indigenous people’s situation in Taiwanese society, whereupon he devoted himself to creating indigenous literature. He writes with astonishing speed, and he stands out among indigenous writers for both quality and quantity. The first problem that indigenous writers encounter is which language they should use. If they want to write of their own experiences, they can write it in Chinese in an “indigenous Chinese-language literature” of their own making, but it would always be equivalent to self-translation. Thus using Romanized script and Chinese in facing format has become one way of breaking through the barriers.
A figure seated at a desk writing is the lasting image of “the writer.” With the exception of a very small number of authors who stand as they write, the vast majority of them write while seated. Some are not choosy about location and can write anywhere. Some always go to a favorite coffee shop and sit wrapped in thought in a certain specific corner. Others remain each day in their own studies at home, with a light and a cup of strong tea their only companions as they belabor their spirits. Nowadays, with the spread of computers, writers can even dispense with paper—they need only sit down before the computer screen and keyboard, and composition is done through finger movements. Now you are invited to try and experience what it’s like being a writer. We have prepared a comfortable wicker chair, which is an integral part of the image of the Taiwanese writer and most common kind of chair in Taiwan. You have already been standing for some time, so you can sit down, stroke the desklamp, shift the teacup, pick up the pen on the desk, and follow the manuscript traces of Lin Zongyuan, Li Qiao, Walis Naqang, and others. You will get a sense of the atmosphere around these writers as they worked. Oh, and just to remind you, these two installations cannot be used at the same time—they are meant for you to experience in sequence.
Inner worlds are never completely sealed. The relationship between one’s inner world and the world outside is one of mutual stimulation and cross-flow; they give rise to and complete each other. Starting during the Japanese colonial period, Taiwan has been swept along through all kinds of trends in contemporary thought; society’s development has produced dramatic changes, but the greatest changes started in the early 1900s and continue at an uncontrollable pace through the present. Spiritually, Taiwan has pulled free from highly repressive forms of government, so that it now enjoys precious speech freedoms. Materially, there has been the arrival of computers and cell phones, which have thoroughly changed interpersonal relationships. As the inner world of Taiwan literature is now being constantly buffeted by the world outside, in a noisy era with a multitude of voices, what style of literature will writers create? We have divided this area, “Literature’s Bright Future,” into three subthemes—“Sensing Modernity,” “Writing Gender,” and “Facing the World.” These present the many kinds of writing and literary genres, and as you are immersed in this great era, you will gain a personal sense of the explosive power of the diversity of Taiwan literature.
The yellowing Japanese magazine you see before you dates to 1933, when a group of Taiwanese students in Tokyo decided to set up a magazine and call it Formosa. Formosa is the appreciative name that Portuguese sailors long ago gave to Taiwan, and it evoked the image of Taiwan for the homesick students. Most of the magazine’s staff were students studying philosophy or fine arts in Japan, so they used modern Western methods to create literature and promote a literary movement. These students—people like Wang Baiyuan, Zhang Wenhuan, and Wu Kunhuang, for example—had members of Taiwan’s new generation, having received complete education under the colonial system. Disregarding close monitoring and warnings, they formed a “Society for the Study of Taiwan Fine Arts,” made Su Weixiong the chief editor, and began publishing Formosa magazine, which was more “literary” than “revolutionary” in nature. Although only three issues were published, it was very rich in content. It put special emphasis on the creation of fiction and poetry and was concerned with nativist literature and socialist trends. Corresponding levels of attention were devoted to literary criticism and collecting the literary heritage of the past (such as collecting folk songs). The magazine’s editors aimed to create the new art and literature that Taiwanese people needed.
Qiu Miaojin already showed outstanding literary talent when she was studying in National Taiwan University’s Department of Psychology. In 1991, she published her first short story collection, Wild Ghostly Pleasures, which gathered six stories that crystallized her experiences during the four years she spent in the university. This manuscript for her short story, “Eccentricity Ratio,” is written as the recollections of a 35 year-old worker while riding the no. 254 bus in Taipei. He recalls all the frustrations and suffering encountered through the past fifteen years, in his relations with parents, in romance, at work, and so on. As street scenes of Taipei County and City shift by, the richly evocative language conveys the suffering created by capitalism in the home and in the fabric of society. In 1995, Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in Paris, when she was only 26 years old. Her most famous work, the novel Notes from a Crocodile, is one of Taiwan’s most important works of gay / lesbian fiction from the 1990s. For highlighting the many real dilemmas that lesbians face in a patriarchal society, it marked a major milestone in gay / lesbian fiction and established a unique cultural context for Taiwan’s lesbians.
In 1962, the American ecologist Rachel Carson published her book, Silent Spring, which pointed out how insecticides were threatening all wild fauna, particularly birds, so that future springs might no longer see the arrival of birds and their songs. The era-defining controversy that the book caused informed and alerted people around the world to environmental threats. The writer Ma Yigong, who studied urban and regional planning in the United States during the 1970s, devoted himself to front-line environmental protection work after he returned to Taiwan and vigorously promoted the concept of environmental protection. He was the chief editor for Taiwan’s first magazine dedicated to environmental protection, Nature. The manuscript you are looking at is for Ma Yigong’s translation of Silent Spring. During the 1980s, when people in Taiwan were relatively unfamiliar with the concept of environmental protection, improving awareness and teaching others about the environment depended on using in-depth yet easy-to-understand reporting on environmental topics. In 1983, a book that Ma Yigong wrote together with Han Han, entitled We Have Only One World, ignited awareness of the environment among ordinary people in Taiwan, and many issues were brought into the open as a result.
The writer Liu Kexiang, who goes by the nickname of Niaoren or “Birdman,” once discovered the carcass of a black egret on the shore of Cetian Island in the Pescadores when he was young. This unexpectedly touched off his interest in birdwatching, and through many years of birdwatching and recording his observations, Liu has been continually experimenting with various ways to write about nature. Through his writings, many readers have come to a new understanding of the place where they grew up. The scope of his writings has also expanded, so that they now delve into Taiwan’s entire natural environment, culture, and history. He has taken on all kinds of topics—big ones like geographical history and small ones like field studies on ancient paths, ecotours, wild herbs, fruits and vegetables in the market, and so on. But in the beginning, in fact, Liu Kexiang was a poet, or one could say that he has always been a poet. The starting point of his creative career, and the first book that he published, with money from his own pocket, was a volume of poetry. However, because he set such high demands on himself, he recalled all the books one week after publication and had them burned. There is no telling where Liu Kexiang might write a poem. For instance, as this napkin from Starbucks shows, that too can be the birthplace for a poem.
During the 1970s, a series of outside political events stimulated and elevated the level of self-reflection among Taiwanese, and in the literary sphere there was a huge debate over “nativist literature” as well as a popular trend in “reportage literature.” Gu Mengren’s The Black Tribe collects five reportage pieces that he wrote from 1975 to 1977. That year, when he postponed graduation from the university, changed his life, because he met Huang Chunming, and then, with the encouragement of the chief editor of the China Times’ literary page, Gao Shangqin, Gu Mengren went to Pitou, a fishing villages on the northeast shore, then the declining mining village Chiufen, and then to Chiaohsi on the Lanyang Plain. Through a chance encounter, he had the opportunity to delve into life at the Xinguang settlement in Jianshi Township, Hsinchu County, from which he produced a long, solid report, “The Black Tribe,” for which he was awarded an “Honorable Mention” in the reportage literature category of the 1st China Times Literature Awards. Nowadays, as cell phones with video recording functions have become common, video recording seems to have replaced the function of reportage literature, but the reportage of thirty years ago still stand as classics that hold frozen in time the real Taiwan that existed not so long ago.
Lin Haiyin, whose roots are in Toufen, Miaoli County, was born in Japan, grew up in Beijing, and served ten years as the chief editor of the literary section of United Daily News, so in that position she found and promoted many young Taiwanese writers. She was one of the first in Taiwan to promote the idea of “pure literature” that was not written with political or commercial objectives. In 1967, she founded Belles-Lettres Monthly, and the next year she set up Belles-Lettres Publishing Co., which published many fine books. Despite being busy with family and the work of editing, she retained an admirable level of creativity. This short story collection from 1965, The Candlewick, together with 1963’s Tales of Marriage, relate the stories of women. Many Chinese women have made the leap across the ages from the May 4th Movement through the changeover from traditional to modern culture, but many have not and still linger on that other side. Moved by this phenomenon, Lin Haiyin’s fiction often narrates these women’s stories against this historical background. There is no anguished shouting or heart-rending sobs here, but there is greater respect for the women of the previous generation who “never made the leap.”
Rapeseed refers to the seeds of the canola or rape plant, which has bright sunshine-yellow flowers. The entire plant is edible if cooked, and it can be used as a green fertilizer. The seeds may be pressed for their oil, and the remainder used as animal feed. It is an extremely useful and valuable plant, and the seeds will sprout and grow to mature plants almost anywhere, no matter how poor the soil is. The title of Liao Huiying’s first novel, Rapeseed derives from a statement by the female protagonist’s mother—“A girl-child has the fate of a rapeseed”—which pithily expresses the traditional value perspective that favored boys and denigrated girls as well as a helpless fatalism, but it also hints at women’s tenacity. This semi-autobiographical work is written from the perspective of a mature woman who looks back on her family life, from childhood to adulthood. After its publication in 1982, it generated a huge response and was even lauded for “capturing in a single brushstroke all the suffering of Taiwanese women for thirty years.” Besides opening wounds, however, it opens windows and forces readers to reflect on the extremely unequal status of the genders. It lays a depth charge under the patriarchal society of a millennium.
There are many authors writing in Chinese in mainland China, Hong Kong, Tibet, the Philippines, Malaysia, and elsewhere that choose to publish their works in Taiwan. This situation highlights Taipei’s unique status as an international city for Chinese literature. On the table before you is a large keyboard with a silver trackball on the right side. Move it gently and it functions like a mouse. Now what about the screen? Look up and the screen will be in front and above you, and a list in green will emerge on the black screen—it will look like uneven lines of poetry. These are the names of overseas Chinese writers and the titles of their works. Whether you know them or not, you were destined to meet them here, and if you carefully savor a paragraph or a few lines of poetry, perhaps you will find that they resonate with your spirit. When you move the cursor with the trackball, just press the button on the forward left side of the trackball, and text from selected work will appear on screen, like some extraterrestrial code, with the clicking sounds of the keyboard. While these words are suspended in air, they wait for you to decipher them through your penetrating insight.
Malaysia is a multiethnic country, but Malays and Chinese are most numerous. The use of Malaysian is enforced. Ethnic Chinese Malaysian writers who write in Chinese are generally referred to as “Malaysian-Chinese writers.” Since the late 1950s, young Malaysian-Chinese people have been coming to Taiwan to study, using their status as overseas Chinese, and from here they have launched a literary movement. Many of its participants have stayed in Taiwan after graduation or even taken ROC citizenship, thereby developing “Malaysian-Chinese literature in Taiwan.” One of them is the writer and critic Huang Jinshu. Although he traces his ancestry to Nan’an, Fujian, he was born in Johor state, Malaysia. He came to study in Taiwan in 1986 and is now a professor in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at National Chi Nan University. His fiction and reviews are frequently published in newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals, and he produces a considerable quantity of high-quality work. This is the manuscript for Huang Jinshu’s The Divine State: Cultural Anxiety and the Internal China, which was published in 1991. The discourse for Malaysian-Chinese literature in Taiwan is gradually taking shape, and through Taiwan’s academic resources in the humanities, this book interprets the past, present, and future of Malaysian-Chinese literature, as well as its connections with Chinese and Taiwanese literature.
During the 1980s, while Taiwanese literary fashion shifted from “modernism” and “native realism” to “post-modernism,” a great diversity of forms, experiments, and themes emerged. The writer Pinglu (the pen-name for Lu Ping) is a novelist but also a sharp critic who is concerned with public issues in the areas of politics, society, and so on. She structures her novels in bold, innovative ways that break the realistic framework; her everchanging subject-matter, literary skills, and willingness to experiment are astonishing. She is adept at handling the complex, tangled relationships between women and history and customarily uses the small narrative to upend the grand narratives of history. The protagonist of the short story “The Garden of Forking Paths,” the manuscript for which you are now looking at, is a male writer who reencounters a woman who was the protagonist of an earlier work of his. He learns that she has been homeless in the past few years, drifting about outside of the bastion of marriage. He ponders how he might change the plot for her, but she prefers divorce and is unwilling to give up her romantic affairs. He does not know how to straighten out all the forking paths, and all the trouble and sacrifices that each entails, so in the end he decides not to revise a thing. This short story is collected in The Century Letter.
Don’t let male writers dominate the foreground! Around the late 1980s and early 1990s, beginning with works like Zhu Tianwen’s Diary of a Madman and Qiu Miaojin’s Notes from a Crocodile, women writers wrote not only of the loves and desires of gay men and lesbians but also of their inner lives, at a deeper level.
Cao Lijuan, who had long served as a magazine editor, won the Best Short Story Prize in the 13th United Daily News Awards in 1991 for her short story, “The Dance of the Virgin”, but it was not until 1998 that it was published in book form, in the short story collection also titled Tongnü zhi wu. The story describes a pair of adolescent girls’ hopes, desires, and explorations of friendship and love. Their young passion burns in their mutual encounters, and the first full flowering of their youths is outlined.
This short story not only became one of the most popular lesbian stories but also came to be considered one of the primers for learning about lesbians.
The Dance of the Virgin collects four short stories and novellas. Besides the eponymous short story, the other three stories have incisive descriptions of the inner struggles of gay men and lesbians and the feelings of helplessness they have when their sexual orientation is met with intolerance from their families. Besides describing their sadness, however, Cao Lijuan also attempts to relate their stories with black humor, and her ability to capture the essence of things with conciseness is everywhere visible.
Besides looking at the book before you, you may also turn around and look at the projection on the wall to the lower left: the video still of the two young women staring at each other are the two protagonists of “The Dance of the Virgin.”
Drinking fountains are to the left; Bathrooms are to the right.
An accessible restroom is located at the end of this hallway. For access, please press the “call” button. An NMTL staff member will open the door for you.
There is an accessible restroom on the opposite side of this building, near the infant nursing room.
An accessible restroom equipped with a diaper-changing table is available for use. Changing tables have a maximum weight load of 10kg and are provided in both men’s and women’s restrooms.
This room is equipped with a sofa, sink, covered toilet, and diaper-changing table. Please help us keep the room clean and tidy. Please do not remove items and do not move or adjust equipment / facilities. Users will be held liable for damage caused to the room and facilities. Personal items such as breast pumps, bottles, infant items, and diapers are not provided.
Please dispose of used diapers in a plastic bag (provided), tie the bag tightly, and place it in the covered trash bin. In case of emergency, the service desk provides diapers for use.
To use the infant nursing room: Please register at the NMTL service counter at the main entrance. NMTL staff will notify museum security to guide you to the room. After you are done, please lock the door on your way out. Please use the telephone in the room (please dial extension 9) if you have any questions / issues.
Room etiquette: Please lock the door to the room after entering. Please knock before entering. Please remember to take your personal belongings with you and to clean up before leaving the room. Use of these rooms for purposes other than nursing is prohibited.
In the event of an emergency: Please press the red emergency button. If you encounter any issue or problem, please contact: 06-221-7201 ext. 9 (main NMTL service desk).
This elevator provides service to B3 (parking garage); B1 (library); and the 2nd Floor (exhibition spaces, Meeting Room I, Literary Experience Room, and Taiwan Literary Classroom)
Located along the east side of the 1st floor, adjacent to Nanmen Road, Cheffresh provides a regular menu of set meals, desserts, and hot and cold beverages.
The hall provides space for regularly scheduled activities and for small-scale art/culture lectures and film showings.
The National Museum of Taiwan Literature is housed within a historic, turn-of-the-20th-century public building in central Tainan City. NMTL’s outdoor space along Zhongzheng and Nanmen Roads include the shaded Literary Walkway, where the excerpted writings of Taiwanese authors that grace its picturesque, brick lampposts help extend NMTL’s collections & exhibitions into the public square. The just-opened NMTL exhibition “Reading Women’s Voices: Taiwan’s Female Authors” spotlights the writings of 33 Taiwanese female writers through history and across a myriad of genres, spanning classical poetry through to the modern novel. In their own times, each author invested her creative energies to broaden the perspective of Taiwanese women and, in the process, contributed substantively to Taiwan’s richly diverse literary landscape. While at the NMTL, we warmly invite you to spend time walking the Literary Walkway, where you may also experience the allure of Taiwan’s talented female authors and their works.
"I whip against my gallant horse, fast as crows. I am proud and bright, leaving home behind. A lady knight of the seas and lakes, I break the waves, going beyond clouds.
- “Chivalrous Youth”
Shi Zhong-ying (1889-1980) had a courtesy name of Li-yu and a art name of Ru-yu. Born in Tainan City, she established the Yunxiang Attic Library in her hometown, and founded the Yunxiang Poetry Club with fellow female poets such as Cai Bi-yin. Meanwhile, Shi actively participated in the activities held by other poetry clubs such as Liuqing and Xishan. Her poems convey a vast range of sentiments. Some are passionate, while others are feminine and refined. Shi was the author of “Li-yu’s Poetry from Yunxiang Attic”. "
"In terms of physical beauty, I don’t measure up to the peony , which is so graceful and tender that no dust may rest on it. However, while I am not as beautiful as the flower, the flower is not as learned as me.
-“A Short Self-portrait”
Cai Zhi-chan (1900-1958) had a birth name of Cai Wan-gan, a courtesy name of Zhi-chan, and a religious name of Ming-hui. Born in Magong, Penghu, she was a student of Chen Mei-feng and Chen Shi-ru, studying classical Chinese. In 1924, she set up a studio in Magong to teach, and this made her the first female lecturer in her hometown. Cai was an expert in poetry, calligraphy, music, chess, and painting. Her poems and paintings are especially praised. Cai’s publications include “Poems and Paintings by Zhi-chan”.
"The pool of quiet, clean water looks serene and enchanting , and its surrounding rocks make a feast for the eyes. The fragrance of flowers blows through the gate, while I paint about such beautiful scenery.
- “Making Paintings in a Quiet Pavilion”
Zhang Li De-he (1893-1972) had a courtesy name of Lian-yu and two art names , Luoshan Historian and the Master of Linlangshan Attic. Born in Xiluo, Yunlin, she was a member of the Xiluo Poetry Club and the Luoshan Poetry Club. Other than reciting poems and writing verses, Zhang also excelled in calligraphy, painting, music, chess, and silk embroidery. The subjects of her poems range from everyday life, social issues, chosen objects, and natural scenery. Her poetry collections include “Collections from Tijin Pavilion of Linlangshan Attic” and “Collections from Tijin Pavilion”.
"Really, I’m your mom! Don’t hesitate, open the door!
- “Auntie Tigress” (translated from Japanese by Zhou Hua-bin)
Born in Taipei, Huang Feng-zi (1928-) graduated from the Third Girls’ High School of Taipei. A famous talented young woman of the Japanese Rule, she married Ikeda Toshio in 1947 and was soon repatriated back to Japan after the war. Huang’s works are mostly about Taiwanese folk customs and legends, such as The Seventh Lord an are mostly about Taiwanese folk customs and legends, such as “The Seventh Lord and the Eighth Lord” and “Young Girls of Taiwan”."
"The Fruit of Love makes one blind because of money. A person’s dream is surrounded by darkness also because of money. What a bad era this is!
- “The Fruit of Love”(translated from Japanese by Ye Shi-tao)
Ye Tao (1905-1970) was born in Qijin, Kaohsiung. A member of the Taiwan Farmers’ Group and Taiwan Cultural Association, she actively participated in social movements. In 1928, Ye met writer Yang Kui and became lifelong “partners of revolutions.” Ye was one of the few female activists during the Japanese Rule. “The Fruit of Love” is a short novel she wrote. "
"Her fragile body is now filled with the courage for taking real-life challenges.
- “Season of Blooming Flowers” (translated from Japanese by Lin Mei-zhi)
Born in Taipei City, Yang Qian-he (1921-2011) graduated from Taipei Women’s College. A writer for the family-culture column of “Taiwan Daily News”, Yang became the first female reporter of Taiwan. Yang mainly wrote proses, news reports and autobiographical novels. Her publications include “Season of Blooming Flowers” and “The Dispersive Prism of Life”."
"Light is really a wonderful thing
With light in the right time
There is hope, joy and comfort
- “With Light in the Right Time”
Born in Hsinchu, Du Pan Fang-ge (1927-2016) studied at Taipei Girls’ High School although she did not graduate. She was the leader of “Culture and Arts in Taiwan” and the chairwoman of the Female Whale Poetry Club. Du Pan was also a member of the Li Poetry Club and Taiwan Writers’ Society. The artist received the 1st Chen Xiu-xi Poetry Awards. In the 1980s, she started writing Hakka poems, which were included in her collection such as “Morning Sun” and “Blue Phoenix and Orchids”, among others."
"If life is a tree
It grows not because it wants to reach the sky
But only to protect its fragile sprouts
- “Covering Leaves”
Born in Hsinchu, Chen Xiu-xi (1921-1991) graduated from Hsinchu Girls’ Public School. She was the chairwoman of Li Poetry Club and a founding member of Taiwan Writers’ Society. Chen received quite a few awards such as the International Poetry Awards of the National Society of Published Poets INC. of America. Her poetry collections include “A Small Room”, “Covering Leaves”, and “Stove”. In 1997, “The Works of Chen Xiu-wi” was published, with Li Kui-xian serving as the editor-in-chief. "
"Facing literature, there is no “they” or “you.” Just “us”!
- “A Grand River”
Born in Tieling, Liaoning, Qi Bang-yuan (1924-) graduated from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Wuhan University and came to Taiwan in 1947. Throughout her life, she is devoted to introducing Taiwan literature to the world. She helped to establish the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and spread the roots of this literary genre. In 2009, at a ripe old age of 85, she completed a 250,000-word memoir, “A Grand River”. Qi has released literary reviews such as “Tears of A Thousand Years” and “When the Fog Slowly Fades”."
"Some pleasant memories never fade. A taste of delicious food can remind a person of many things of the past.
- “Buddha's Temptation”
Lin Wen-yue (1933-) is considered a writer from Changhua although she was born in Shanghai, China. She is a longtime professor in the Department of Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University, and does research in classical Chinese literature. She has also translated classical Japanese literature such as “The Tale of Genji”. As to the works she has written, most of them are prose, such as “A Person Who Studies Chinese”, “A Year in Kyoto”, and “Dietary Notes”."
"I wish I were a bodhi tree, spreading my twigs and leaves out to the blue sky and the Sun, on a subtropical land.
- “Bodhi Tree”
Zhang Xiu-ya (1919-2001) was born in Hebei, China. She was a National Assembly member and a university professor. Her works are mostly proses, novels, modern poems, and translations. Zhang has written a few dozen books, such as “Viola Tricolor”, “By a Northern Window”, and “History of the Western Art”. Her translations include “A Room of One’s Own” and “The Song of Bernadette”."
"In May, fiery red flowers bloomed. It is the Mid-autumn Moon Festival and big fat pomegranates smile at Papa with their mouths wide open!
- “Memories of Peking: South Side Stories”
Lin Hai-yin (1918-2001) had a birth name of Lin Han-ying. Born in Miaoli, she grew up in Beijing, China, and only returned to Taiwan in 1948. Lin was a reporter and an editor for the literary supplement of newspaper . She founded the Belle-Lettres Publishing House and actively cultivated young talents. Most of her works are proses and novels. Her works include “Memories of Peking: South Side Stories” , Silhouettes of the Literary Circle, and “Morning Clouds.Snapshots of the Literary Circle”, and “Morning Clouds”."
The color red was everywhere: red-lettered slogans, posters in large red characters, red signboards. In the light of the setting sun they presented a scary and menacing scene .
- “The Execution of Mayor Yin”
Chen Ruo-xi (1938-) has a birth name of Chen Xiu-mei. Born in Taipei, Chen was a founder of Modern Literature, a magazine, and lives in the United States today. From 1966 to 1973, she was in China, living through the Cultural Revolution. Most of her works take the form of novel and prose, such as “The Execution of Mayor Yin”
, “In and Out of Town”, and “Building a Paradise on Earth”.
From the spring to the summer, in every dream
Your name gracefully resonates
From narcissus in February to a flow of lotus and water chestnut flowers in June
-“The Flourishing Flowers in Your Name”
Born in Jiangsu, China, Rong Zi (1928-) has a birth name of Wang Rong-zhi. Most of her works are poetry, although she also writes proses and children’s stories. Poet Luo Men is her husband. Rong Zi has released nearly 20 poetry books such as “The Bluebird Collections” and “As Long as We Keep Our Roots”. Her poems have been selected for poetry anthologies in English, French, Japanese, Korean and Romanian.
"This year’s oranges already become red and ripe, and the trees will grow flowers and bear fruits next year. More oranges shall become red and ripe then.
Born in Zhajiang, China, Chi Chun (1917-2006) had a birth name of Pan Xi-zhen. After she came to Taiwan, she worked for a judicial institution and gave lectures at universities from time to time. Qi Jun’s works include proses, novels, reviews, children’s literature, and translations. Qi Jun released a few dozen books in her lifetime and they are all loved by readers. The books include “Heart of a Piano”,“ Ms. Qing”, and “Ripening Orange”"
Where is the spring?
The spring hides itself in drizzles.
The drizzles splash onto red flowers.
The drizzles splash onto green grass.
The drizzles splash onto you and me.
- “Where Is the Spring?”
Pan Ren-mu (1919-2005) had a birth name of Pan Fo-bin. Born in Liaoning, China, after coming to Taiwan, she worked as an editor of children’s books at the Taiwan Provincial Education Department. Most of her works are proses and children’s stories. Her novels include “Cousin Lianyi”, “Ma Lan’s Autobiography”, and “A Small World of Sorrow and Joy”. She also released a large number of children’s songs, children’s stories, proses for children, and translations.
We must make the people of Taiwan know what their flaws are and in what ways? Are they too selfish? What should they do about it?
- “Orphans of the World”
Wang Chi-Mei (1946) was born in Beiping, China. She came to Taiwan in 1949 and graduated from the Department of Chinese Literature, National Taiwan University. The stage plays and proses she has written show her care for Taiwan, and the subjects include the right to culture for society’s marginalized groups. Wang has released various stage plays, proses and arts and cultural reviews, such as “Orphans of the World”, “Three Seasons of a Year”, and “Sorrowful Youth: A Documentary Theatre on AIDS in Taiwan”.
Do not ask me where I am from
My hometown is in a faraway place
Why am I wandering?
Wandering so far, wandering….
- “Olive Tree”
San Mao (1943-1991) had a birth name of Chen Mao-ping, before being renamed as Chen Ping. Born in Chongqing, China, she grew up in Taipei. In the 1970s, she published a series of exotic articles on life in the Sahara Desert. San Mao released a few dozen books in her lifetime, such as “The Story of the Sahara” , “Gone with the Rainy Season” , and “San Mao the Storyteller”, in addition to songs and poems.
What should I do to make you meet me
While I am the most beautiful / For this
I have been praying to Buddha for 500 years
so that we may fall in love in the secular world
- “A Blooming Tree”
Xi Mu-rong (1943-) was born in Chongqing, China and she grew up in Taiwan. Her parents are Mongolian. Xi mostly writes poetry and prose, and she is a famous painter, too. Her poetry collections include “Jasmine Orange”, “Unregretful Youth”, and “Nine Stories about Time”. Xi’s poems are much loved by young people.
The longings of the ancestral spirits of Siraya
Transform into winds against the seas.
They keep asking, year after year,
how is my hometown?
-“Winds against the Seas”
Lan Shu-zhen (1946-) was born in Ligang, Pingtung. She graduated from the Department of Chinese, National Kaohsiung Normal University and was a teacher of National Tainan Vocational School for some time. Now, Lan is the president of the Hongshulin Taiwanese Hokkien Association and an executive director of the Kuann-bang-hue Association of Taiwanese Language and Literature. Lan received the Nanying Literature Awards and the Tainan Literature Prize. Her Taiwanese Hokkien poetry collections include “Longing” and “The“înn-á-hue” of Taiwan”.
Lifts the veils of fog on farm fields
Bury their feelings
Into the sprouts of crops
- “Veil of Fog and Smoke”
Li Yu-fang (1952-) was born in Pingtung. Graduating from the Kaohsiung College of Commerce, she is a lecturer in natural ecology these days. In 1978, the writer joined the Li Poetry Club. Li is a winner of the Wu Zhuo-liu Literature Awards and the Chen Xiu-xi Poetry Awards. In recent years, she is also devoted to writing Hakka poetry. Li’s publications include “The Taste of Living”, “Sunflower”, and “On One Morning, I Sip Roselle Tea”.
Time is irreversible; life is irreversible. However, in writing, all that is irreversible becomes reversible.
- “Notes of a Desolate Man”
Born in Kaohsiung, Zhu Tian-wen (1956-) graduated from the Department of English, Tamkang University. Zhu used to write about serious subjects in a romantic and humorous way .Then she turned to depicting life in cities, candidly analyzing what modern people think. Other than being a novelist, Zhu is an important figure in Taiwan’s new-wave film movements. Zhu is the author of “Growing Up”, “End of a Century”, and “Words of a Witch”.
I realized that if on a land none of my family members had died, it cannot be called my hometown.
- “Thinking of My Fellow Brothers in the Military Dependents' Village”
Born in Kaohsiung, Zhu Tian-xin (1958-) graduated from the Department of History, National Taiwan University. In her early career years, she mostly wrote with a keen eye for everyday details.Recently she likes to reveal her experiences and reflections on society as a system, and unrelentingly criticizes the political and social issues of the times. She writes about her lonesome feelings when traveling in other cities, too. Zhu’s works include “The Jirang Song”,“Thinking of My Fellow Brothers in the Military Dependents' Village”, and “The Old Capital”.
This is a self-deceiving hypothesis: If I can fall in love with a man, the pain of falling in love with a woman will disappear.
- “Notes of a Crocodile”
Qiu Miao-jin (1969-1995), born in Changhua, was a renowned lesbian novelist. In 1990, she became acclaimed in the literary circle for Notes of a Crocodile. The book documents the lust and struggles of a lesbian, in the form of personal notes. In it, the author invented the term “La Zi” to call lesbians. In 1995, at age 26, Qiu killed herself in Paris, leaving Last Words from Montmartre behind.
Quiet, open and rushing toward the far corners of the world, the canal looks like a curtain of beads. Is there really beautiful treasure on that mysterious other side?
- “Mud River”
Born in Tainan City, Chen Ye (1959-20012) had a birth name of Chen Chun-xiu. Graduating from the Department of Chinese, National Taiwan Normal University, Chen was a high school Chinese teacher. Most of her works are novels and she enjoyed writing about personal life, family history and national memory. Some of Chen’s novels also deal with surrealist subjects. Chen’s publications include “Mud River”, “A Burning Sky”, and “The Daughter Who Has Just Half a Face”.
From my mother to me, and from me to my child, I am in the wait. The road to identity shall not be so rough as it used to be.
-“Drifting in the River of Identity”
Liglav A-wu (1969-), an indigenous Paiwan, was born in Pingtung. She graduated from Dajia High School. Her proses are inspired by her own identity as a Paiwan woman and she writes about family history. This allows the writer to present the profound life experiences of indigenous peoples with an easy-to-understand style. Ligalv A-wu’s works include “Who Would Put on the Beautiful Garments I Wove”, “Red-mouthed Vuvu”, and “Mulidan-Notes on a Tribe”.
Have I ever bowed and prayed wholeheartedly, “Give me someone who I can rely on, and a baby, too.”
Born in Yilan, Jian Zhen (1961-) has a birth name of Jian Min-zhen. For some time, she was an editor and a publisher. Now she is a full-time writer. Most of her works are proses and their subjects cover all stages of life, with varying styles. Jian has written “I Propose Questions to Water”, “Infant”, “Farthest Corners of the World”, and “Who Is Waiting for You in That Silvery Shining Spot”.
The ocean water of the south is so bright, feverish and dazzling…
- “East of the East”
Born in Kaohsiung, Ping Lu (1953) has a birth name of Lu Ping. She is known for using famous women in history as the protagonists for her novels. Her stories are achronological and spatially dispersed, often interwoven with journalistic reports.This allows Ping Lu to express her passion and ambition for culture and politics. Her novels include “Death in a Corn Field”, “East of the East”, and “Love and Revolution”.
He switches among multiple identities.
“Is this person me?”
“This person can’t be me!”
- “Three Generations of People”
Shi Shu-qing (1945-) was born in Lugang, Changhua. She is the elder sister of Li Ang, who is also a renowned writer. Shi gave lectures at universities for some time, and lived in Hong Kong for more than a decade before settling down in the United States. Most of her works are novels and proses, including Suxi’s Resentments and Blush of Intoxication, as well as historical novels such as the Hong Kong Trilogy and the Taiwan Trilogy. Shi is a winner of the National Culture and Arts Awards.
The bits fall between the mouth and the tongue, as if a full sky of stars are falling. Shocking, violent and tantalizing, they arouse the deepest sensations of taste.
- “An Erotic Feast for Love Birds”
Li Ang (1952-), whose real name is Shi Shu-tuan, was born in Lugang, Changhua . She is the younger sister of Shi Shu-ching, who is also a famed writer. Li was a university lecturer for some time, and her writings mostly take the form of novel and prose. Li’s style is incisive ; she dares to challenge political and gender taboos. Li has written several dozens of books, including “The Secular World”, “The Butcher’s Wife”, “Beigang Incense Burner of Lust” , and “An Erotic Feast for Love Birds”.
The mother and the daughter thought of the winds and the Sun on the salt field. They were eager to go back - back to the salty land where they were raised and born.
- “Children of Salt Fields”
Tsai Su-fen (1963-) was born in Tainan. She was an editor for the literary supplement of Liberty Times for some time. Her works are full of vivid expressions of everyday life. Her style is light and spiritual, revealing the depths of humanity. Tsai is most famous for her “salt-field trilogy”:“ Children of Salt Fields”, “Olive Tree”, and “Stars Talk”.
“I’d be happy to sew a family of ours, using my life as threads and your love as that needle…”
Zhang Chun-huang (1953-2014) came from Dashe, Kaohsiung. She held a master’s degree in the science of information from Florida State University, United States. Zhang was a part-time university lecturer and the editor for publications such as “The World of Taiwanese Hokkien” and “Si Giann Taiwanese Monthly”. Her works include “The Path of Youth , “Meteor Shower in The Night Sky”, and Introduction to “Taiwanese Hokkien Literature”.
“Why do you like islands?”
“They are complete on their own. To me, it makes no sense to stay in a big place.”
Su Wei-zhen (1954-) was born in Tainan. She holds a doctoral degree from the School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong. While serving as the editor-in-chief for the Erudite edition of United Daily, Su wrote a vast range of articles. Su’s novels are known for “writing about passion with a cool pen.” The subjects she takes include women’s devotion to romantic love, deep personal.
Regularly used for lectures, meetings, and film screenings. Please visit the NMTL website for a schedule of upcoming activities.
Regularly hosts classes on Taiwan literature. For details, please visit the website: http://xdcm.nmtl.gov.tw/tlc/home01.aspx?ID=1
This multipurpose space regularly hosts storytelling activities, experiential theater performances, small-scale art/culture lectures, and film appreciation events.
At the beginning of 1949, the Chinese Civil War was coming to the end. After the battles of Liao Shen, Xujing and Ping Jin, the front line of the Kuomintang had collapsed. In January, People’s Liberation Army of the Communist Party entered Beiping. Chiang Kai-shek announced his resignation and began actively transporting a large number of soldiers, civilians, and supplies to Taiwan. He planned to continue to fight the Communist Party across the Taiwan Strait.
By the October of 1949, the Kuomintang had sent over 910,000 people to Taiwan. The process was hectic and dire, much like an escape. Of course, it was inevitable that many were forced to be separated from their friends and families.
The exiled soldiers and civilians arriving in Taiwan, who are named “post-war migrants” in this exhibition, were not mentally prepared to stay in Taiwan for a very long time. The Taiwan that they came to was a populous and affluent colony that Japan once ruled for fifty-one years, and had experienced the U.S. airstrikes in World War II and also a breakdown of civil welfare after the war. It was also a society in unrest after the cleansing through the countryside due to the 228 Incident.
Not only were they unfamiliar with the terroir of Taiwan, but they also had a deep misunderstanding about what local people thought, namely those who just became their countrymen. However, after 1949, many people who thought that they were about to recover mainland China were forced to live in Taiwan without knowing when the “temporary/warring” life would end...
Taiwanese memory of war began with the Pacific War. In 1942, many young people volunteered to fight in Southern Asia to serve the Japanese Emperor. In the memory of civilians, war was tantamount to avoiding the U.S. airstrikes and the endless war mobilization drills.
Since 1931, the people from mainland China had begun experiencing the ruthless war in the northeastern region. The Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, and the Chinese people were forced to drift from place to place and suffered numerous vicissitudes. Unexpectedly, shortly after Japan’s surrendered, the Kuomintang and the Communist Party launched a civil war again just two years later. The whole country was once again caught up in a catastrophe.
In 1948, the government of the Republic of China promulgated the “Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of National Mobilization for the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion”, and the entire China entered into a period of total mobilization. In 1949, with the retreat of Chiang Kai-shek’s army, Taiwan continued to implement the “Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of National Mobilization for the Suppression of the Communist Rebellion”. In another word, the state of war is extended infinitely. All Taiwanese military and civilians must regard “recovering mainland China” as the goal and Taiwan had become a large temporary/warring military fortress.
Under the heavy flag of “recovering mainland China”, the post-war migrants and the islanders were in a state of aphasia, unable to understand and sympathize with each other. This situation made healing historical wounds even more difficult. It is only through literary metaphors, and through writings about families, could they summon their traumatic experiences, and tried to relocate the individual and familial stories of “separation”.
Manuscript of Shang Qin’s <Giraffe>.
Shang Qin’s poems is full of surrealistic imagery. In this poem, through the observation of the young prison guard, the prisoners look with their stretched necks, like a giraffe, symbolizing the silence and freedom under the era of the White Terror.
Due to the hastiness and intensity of the civil war, many people did not have the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. After the war, the migrants came to Taiwan with a feeling of anxiousness and uneasiness. In addition to adapting to the new land, they must overcome their homesickness. Whether they were intellectuals from a higher social class, or farmers taken by the Kuomintang from their homes to become soldiers, they didn’t know when the war would start again and when they would be forced to move, so it was difficult for them to see Taiwan as a permanent place to settle down. Their lives seemed to have halted forever in the moment before leaving mainland China.
Figure 1: Military Marriage Report Form. During that time, soldiers’ marriages must be approved by their superior.
Figure 2: President Chiang Kai-shek awarded his sword at the Republic of China Military Academy. Chiang Kai-shek issued swords to the outstanding graduates of the Republic of China Military Academy. This short sword is also known as the “Chiang Kai-shek sword”.
Figure 3: False Discharge Order. Before 1964, the National Armed Forces did not establish a formal discharge system, so soldiers had to use the “false discharge order” to apply for discharge.
During the Chinese Civil War, the morale of the Kuomintang was low, and many soldiers surrender themselves to the Communist Party. Especially during the Battle of the Yangtze River Defense, the Kuomintang navy, which originally had the upper hand, had many ships surrendered. This resulted in a complete collapse of the defensive line. After Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan, he was scared of the Communist Party infiltrating Taiwan. Therefore, through a strict spy system, he began eliminating all possible “rebels” on the island. In addition to capturing a large number of Chinese Communist underground party members organized in Taiwan, he also seized the underlying “spies” in the military and various agencies. According to the statistics, the migrants who came to Taiwan post-war accounted for only 13% of the total population in Taiwan.
However, the number of people persecuted during the White Terror was nearly 50%. After the navy came to Taiwan, the purging situation got worse. Feng Feng’s ”Misty Voyage” is a description of the navy under the White Terror. As a naval officer, Feng Feng was once imprisoned in Fengshan’s “Navy Guest House” and was abused and raped. His story is too tragic to be told. During the period of retreat and exile, the Kuomintang also often framed people for espionage for purging purposes. One famous example was the “Shandong Exile School Case”. In 1949, the joint middle school of Shandong Province was led by Principle Zhang Mingzhi. More than 8,000 people fled to Penghu, but the commander of Penghu ordered all students to enlist. Principle Zhang refused to obey and was convicted of espionage. A total of seven teachers and students were transferred to Taiwan be executed. The remaining 2,000 plus students were transferred to Changhua Yuanlin Experimental Middle School to continue their education. The founder of the journal Free China, Lei Chen, was once a representative of the National Congress and the Minister of State of the Executive Yuan. He was Chiang Kai-shek’s right-hand man. However, since Lei Chen repeatedly attacked Chiang Kai-shek in the Free China and even planned to establish a new political party, the Free China Journal was liquidated by Chiang Kai-shek, and Lei Chen himself was imprisoned for ten years.
In the Fujian-Guangdong region, mainland China is called "Tangshan". This Tangshan is not the name of Tangshan in Hebei Province. Instead, it means "the land of the Tang people". Tangshan can also be referred to as the migrants from mainland China. Most of the Taiwanese ancestors were immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, commonly known as "Tangshan to Taiwan". However, after hundreds of years of change in identity, Taiwanese called the immigrants after 1945 "Tangshanzi", and because of the many conflicts between the ethnic groups, some people would refer to the post-war migrants as "Ashanzi".
From the perspective of post-war migrants, they had no choice but to be exiled to Taiwan. It was a tragedy of the great era. Almost everyone had endless tragic stories to tell. However, their arrival in Taiwan also caused discontent among the islanders. Apart from the language barrier, there was also a great gap in the memory of war, ethnic identity, and class identity. In addition, there were unresolved emotions from the 228 Incident, so the post-war migrants as well as the islanders always had unspoken difficulties between them that were hard to reconcile. Even some of the families of the islanders were reluctant to engage in the marriage of the next generation (especially women) with the "mainlanders".
In the community experience of post-war migrants, the "military dependents’ village" is the most important representative. About one-fifth of the post-war migrants lived in these villages distributed by the country. In addition to the cultural gap with the islanders as mentioned above, the second generation of post-war migrants who grew up in the villages had a strong sense of emotion for the village, which could be seen as a rural identity that had been transformed.
Usually the mainstream society will also directly equate the culture of the village to the culture of post-war migrants, such as such as the love and hate for the party-state within the village, the experience of the integration of multi-provincial culture, the similar schooling experience, and the group identity formed under the eyes of the islanders. Lai Sheng-chuan and Wang Wei-zhong's stage play <The Village> and the TV series <Time Story> are reinterpreting the scenery of the military dependents’ village under the mainstream impression.
At the beginning of 1950, the Communist Party gathered its troops and was about to cross the sea to attack Taiwan. However, the Korean War broke out in June of the same year, and the United States immediately dispatched the Seventh Fleet to patrol the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, Mao Zedong chose to consolidate the forces in the north and gave up the plan to attack Taiwan.
After the Korean War, more than 20,000 people from the “People’s Volunteer Army” of the Chinese Communist Party were captured by the U.S. military. The U.S. military allowed the prisoners of war to choose to either return to the “Republic of China” or the “People’s Republic of China”. The Kuomintang cadres infiltrated the prison camps and encouraged the prisoners of war to return to "Free China." In order to strengthen the will of the prisoners of war to repatriate to Taiwan, they helped them to get tattoos of “Fight against the Communist and the Russian” or “Kill Zhu De and Mao Zedong”. Eventually, a total of 14,000 prisoners of war from the Volunteer Army chose to return back to Taiwan. The Republic of China also hosted welcoming fairs such as “1,2,3 Freedom Day” to publicize the return of these “anti-communist fighters”.
The atmosphere during the opposition between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party left an indelible mark on the skin of this group of soldiers, symbolizing that the country forcibly engraved its ideology on its people. Once they had been branded, they had lost their freedom of choice, or if they had picked the wrong party, they were faced with dire consequences.
Cross-strait relations were allowed after 1987. Many veterans must erase the marks on their bodies before returning home. Zhang Xiao-feng wrote ”1,230 marks”, describing the veterans who removed the 1,230 marks on their body with laser using subsidies, which erased their past political beliefs, leaving only a pale and aging flesh.
Xu Rongqing's Manuscript. The Green Moss under the Dead Wood Totem—Analysis of Professor Ma Cong’s Short Poem ”Tattoo”
On the island of Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek maintained the legitimacy of the rule of the Kuomintang by promoting the "Free China" and the imaginary Chinese nationalist legal inheritance.
By banning the use of Japanese, Taiwanese, Hakka, and Aboriginal languages in the public media, changing the aboriginals’ last names into Han surnames, and implementing “birthplace” registry on the ID cards, Chiang’s government strengthened the recognition of a new “Chinese nation”.
Another obvious example was that during the early post-war period, the Administrative Executive’s Office erased all the symbols left by Japan, including street names, place names, and Japanese Shinto shrines and bronze statues. Then, following the example of Shanghai, the government branded the map of China on the streets of Taipei City. In the north to Taipei, there is Jilin Road and in the south Guangzhou Street. Thus, in Taiwan, one can imagine the entire mainland China.
Even though the post-war migrants did not know when they could return to their hometowns, through the transformation and recreation of symbols, time was frozen, and the homesickness was replanted on this once foreign island.
Before the Household Registration Act was amended in 1992, the birthplaces listed on the Taiwanese identification cards were based on the father’s birthplace; that is, although many descendants of the post-war migrants were born in Taiwan, their birthplaces still had to be listed as a province of China. For many descendants of the post-war migrants who had never been to China, the birthplace seemed unfamiliar, but it was a link to a distant homesickness.
Using the birthplace as a way to distinguish different ethnic groups had once influenced the promotion of one’s career on the island of Taiwan. The two major examinations for hiring public servants, the advanced examination and the general examination, were classified according to the population quota of the province. For example, the “national” quota for the examinations in 1991 was 599 people in total, with 21 people in Taiwan Province, 44 in Jiangsu Province, and 8 in Mongolia. The Taiwan Provincial Government had another examination for people of the Taiwanese nationality, and after 1962, the new policy of doubling the quota for Taiwanese nationality was implemented, the serious problem of imbalance have improved. However, with the additional four special examinations, the post-war migrants (mainlanders) still had an absolute advantage in terms of population ratios.
Liu Pichia was a graduation thesis film produced by Chen Yaochi for his master’s degree in film at the University of California, Los Angeles. The protagonist of the film was a middle-aged, retired sergeant who lived in the Fengtian industrial area of Hualien County. His honest lifestyle was shown through this simple and powerful documentary. (Source: Foundation of Taiwan Film Institute)
In 1965, director Chen Yao-chi produced the first real film, Liu Pichia, in the history of documentary in Taiwan. During the Chinese Civil War, the film's protagonist, Liu Pichia, was forcibly recruited by the Kuomintang in the rural areas of China through “a random draw”. He migrated to Taiwan under the regime of Chiang Kai-shek and finally came to the east before discharge. There he started cultivating on a river bank filled with stones.
Decades later, director Hu Tai-li discovered Liu Pi-chia in a farm on the banks of the Mugua River in Hualien. She began recording this new immigrant village composed of mainland veterans, their wives from different Taiwanese ethnic groups (mostly Aboriginal, though there were Minnan and Hakka), and their children. “Stone” was a very important symbol that linked together these two generations of people in this film: the veterans were working tirelessly in the stone piles while their children saw these stones as treasures to be kept and played. Liu Pi-chia and his family were like rhodonite, that under the black and ordinary appearance lies a rose-like elegancy. Along with the distant and simple sound of Guqin, they build their dreams in the company of the waves of the stream. (Source: Foundation of Taiwan Film Institute)
As Pai Hsien-yung said in the article <The Historical Background to the Founding of <Modern Literature> and Its Spiritual Outlook >: "We are not responsible for the history of the mainland because we were still in our childhood. However, we have to be held accountable, along with our fathers and elder brothers, for tragic consequences of the failure of the mainland. In fact, the old world that our fathers and elder brothers had built on the mainland had long since collapsed. We could not identify with that old world, which had already disappeared and existed only in memories and legends.”
The second generation of the post-war migrants did not have the war experience of the previous generation. Most of them were born in Taiwan and most of their memory of growing up was centered around the military dependents’ villages. In addition, since most of the post-war migrant families had no relatives in Taiwan, their neighbors in the village became their family and the village became their hometown.
In the hearts of Zhu Tianxin, Zhu Tienwen, Nick Wang, Su Weizhen, Serafima Zhang, and Wang Weizhong, the military dependents’ villages is a childhood memory, but through growing up, the children of the village seemed to have been labeled with some kind of stereotypes by the islanders. The stable homeland in their hearts was regarded as a temporary, transitional space for a special ethnic group.
The writers from the second generation of post-war migrants constantly wanted to respond or think about this complex sense of collective consciousness. Where did it come from?
Nick Wang’s <The Fault of the Birthplace> clipping was published in <China Times> in 1984. Nick Wang described his family background. His father is from Manchu in northeast China. His mother is from Yilan. He used to study in Hsinchu and grew up under the cultural conflicts of various ethnic groups (Minnan, Hakka, and mainland). This article used the “China Taiwan” identity at the end to summarize the differences in identity between "birthplace".
Manuscript of Chi Pang-yuan’s "Military Dependents’ Village Literature: The Inheritance and Abandonment of Homesickness", analyzes the background of the village literature, summarizes the nostalgic writings of the post-war migrants, and discusses the disappointment of losing home again after remodeling of the village.
The post-war migrants had nowhere to live when they first came to Taiwan. They could only build temporary housing in the vicinity of military camps, parks, and institutional schools (such as today’s Daan Forest Park in Taipei, Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall). Only a few lived in the dormitory left by the Japanese. At that time, the Kuomintang believed that the migration to Taiwan was only temporary, so there wasn’t a complete plan for housing construction in the early stages.
It was not until 1957 that the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians became a serious social problem. With the support of the "National Women’s League of the R.O.C." organized by Soong Mei-ling, a large number of residences were starting to be built, which were the “official military dependents’ villages” managed by the Ministry of National Defense. According to the statistics of the Ministry of National Defense, there were up to 886 villages in the peak period and nearly 100,000 houses.
In the late 1970s, some villages gradually became old, so the government began to promote the reconstruction of the civil housing. In 1980, “The Operational Points for the Trial Period of Old Military Dependents’ Village Rebuilding” was implemented, allowing the Ministry of National Defense to cooperate with the provincial, county, and municipal governments to rebuild the village. After the completion of the project, half of it was distributed to the military dependents’ village while the other half was used for civil housing.
In 1997, the Legislative Yuan passed the “Act Governing the Reconstruction of Old Villages for Military Personnel and their Dependents”. It was planned that all villages would be converted into modern apartments. As of right now, the Ministry of National Defense has kept just 13 villages as cultural parks, preserving the precious post-war migrant culture.
Many post-war migrants saw the villages as their second hometown. Therefore, during the process of demolition of the villages, the homesickness of post-war migrants was often stimulated. Serafima Zhang’s writing, "The Disappearing 口口", not only talks about the change and disappearance of the spatial landscape, but it also symbolizes the separation and disappointment of the post-war migrant community has with the culture, identity, and interpersonal network.
In 1979, China issued a "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan", which allowed Taiwanese people to return home and visit relatives. This is the beginning of non-military negotiations between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. However, the President of the Republic of China at that time, Chiang Ching-kuo, responded with the Three Nos Policy, namely “no contact, no negotiation, no compromise”.
However, many post-war migrants were getting old. They hoped to return to their hometown to visit their relatives while they still had the chance, so one year after the lift of the martial law in 1986, an old veteran named He Wen-de initiated the campaign to return home in mainland China. He started off handing out pamphlets on the streets, calling for opening of family visits. Later, more and more people responded, such as Yang Zu-jun, Wang Xiao-bo, and many members of the Democratic Progressive Party, such as Fan Sun-lu. In April 1987, He Wen-de and others established the “Mainlanders Returning Home Promotion Association" and held a mass meeting in June. It was said that tens of thousands of people crowded into the auditorium of Jinhua Junior high school at the time, and everyone sang <Mother, Where Are You?> by Ruan Ling-yu in unison. Everyone was in tears and the scene was heartbreaking.
However, the road to home was so far away. After returning to home, facing the death of loved ones was the most painful thing. After cutting off all contact for nearly forty years, it was only after stepping on home soil that one realized that through land reform, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, everything had changed. The veterans and their family and friends could only cry together in response to all the changes.
Many veterans were once married in mainland China but after coming to Taiwan, they had formed another family. In the face of the emotional contradictions between the two hometowns, they could only respond with silence.
The shirt for the Mainlanders Returning Home Promotion Association (Source, He Wen-de)
The tops worn by members of the Mainlanders Returning Home Promotion Association. The words were written by James Tsai’s neighbor, Zheng Duo-keng. During that time, Zheng Duo-keng was working at a central printing factory and was the in-house coin designer. He had received multiple awards including the Taiwan Provincial Painting and Calligraphy Competition.
The words written on the clothes included: "Homesick", "My home is on the Songhua River in the Northeast", "White-hair Mother, hoping for the son’s return, with red make-up, entering in the same dream at midnight", "Do you miss your parents? Do you miss your loved ones? Do you miss your hometown?" "The Chiang Presidents came to Taiwan, and the Taiwanese people lost their families.”
Generally speaking, the "official military dependents villages" that we are familiar with are about 100,000 households. The number of soldiers who followed the Kuomintang to Taiwan was about 500,000. Therefore, only about one-fifth of the soldiers could be allocated to the villages. Most other migrants had to work on their own. Some of them lived in the dormitory of schools, some were integrated into the province's community, and more urban post-war migrants could only set up temporary housing and scatter in every corner of the city. This type of migrant housing was generally called an "unofficial military dependents’ village" or a "self-reliant military dependents’ village".
However, since the houses were not officially registered, these settlements were regarded as illegal construction. When rebuilding happened with urban development, the residents were forced to move out, and the lonely old veterans could only continue to be exiled. Daan Forest Park was formerly the reserved location for the No. 7 Park during the Japanese era. After the war, it became the largest illegal construction area in Taipei. The 1983 film, "Papa, Can You Hear Me Sing?", used the illegal construction of the No. 7 Park as the background. In 1989, the Taipei City Government decided to demolish these illegal buildings and relocate the residents to Yanshou and Nangang civil housing.
In 1952, after the elite troops policy, many old and weak officers and soldiers were forced to retire. In order to resettle these veterans, the government opened up "Datong Cooperative Farm" and sent over 1,000 veterans to the rural areas of Taiwan for land cultivation, such as Xizhou Township on the river bank of the Zhuoshio River in Changhua and Shoufeng Township in Hualien.
Take the Datong Farm in Xizhou as an example. Although it was called a farm, it was actually just a river that was covered with gravel, making it difficult to cultivate. The veterans worked tirelessly and finally opened up hundreds of acres of good land in exchange for food and clothing.
Although there were places to live in, these poor veterans were having a hard time to get married, so they ended up marrying women with physical or mental disabilities in the Changhua, Nantou area. <The News Lens> once did a report on the Datong Farm in Xinmin Village, Mingjian Township, Nantou. Authors Chen Fei-wen and Li Wen-ji visited the village with the help of the poet Wu Sheng and learned that the village is also known as the "mute village" or "ugly village", because half of the women who got married here were mutes, and some even had minor mental disabilities.
The Kangle Park between the intersection of Nanjing East Road and Linsen North Road today was originally a Japanese cemetery during the Japanese era and a reserved location for the No. 14 and No. 15 parks. After the war, the Elysium funeral home was built here, and with the new migrants settling down around here, it became a large gathering for illegal construction. In 1997, the then mayor of Taipei, Chen Shui-bian, decided to dismantle all the illegally built housing for the urban development. However, due to the rough process, a single veteran, Di Suo-xiang hanged himself. The band "Black Hand Nakasi" wrote the song <Time to Eat Breakfast, Grandpa> to commemorate Mr. Di Suo-xiang, expressing a complaint to the government for these bottom-level post-war migrants.
During the great flee in 1949, most of the soldiers were unable to bring their families to Taiwan. Only a few families with better living conditions and better luck could be reunited in Taiwan (or families such as Dachen Yibao). Therefore, the male-female ratio was severely out of balance. According to statistics from 1966, the ratio of male to female after the war was as high as 1:1.63.
After the government allowed marriages for military officers, many would marry the Minan or Hakka women on the island, and the cross-ethnic marriage also brought many cultural conflicts to Taiwanese society. Especially for the islander women, since the relationship within an islander’s family was very stable, a traditional family generally would have dozens of members. Compared with the nuclear family composed by post-war migrants (couples and children), the islander women must adapt to two distinct ethnic cultures, even bear double stereotypes or have unspeakable sorrow.
The stories of us (WOMAN), whether it is a woman of post-war migrants who came to Taiwan in exile, a Minnan or Hakka woman who was married in a village and had to adapt to the culture of other provinces, or an aboriginal woman who married a veteran due to poverty and fought to support each other, these mothers are the most important group of post-war migrant families. However, they are also the most often forgotten group of people in this big era.
Chinese cuisine is often interwoven in the post-war migrant literature. Zhu Tian-xin exaggeratedly depicts in <Missing by Brethren at a Village of Military Dependents> that the villagers can distinguish the provincial cultural of each neighbor through the scent of their hiccups. Chen Li’s “Luyu Xiaochi” tells the complex background of post-war migrant families. Movement, stillness, sadness, and happiness are all mixed inside a bowl of steaming hot noodles, which is simple and yet profound.
The homesickness of post-war migrants was built upon their memory of food. Through daily cooking, migrants were eager to recreate not just the smell of their hometown, but also the identity of their hometown. All the recreations even created a new cultural imagination. Therefore, food was no longer just food, but a projection of a rich political metaphor. It told the stories of post-war migrants’ attachment to the past, and it was also a microcosm of conflicts and integration with Taiwan's local society.
Figure 1: Chiao Thai Hsing Flour Mill (Jiahe Brand) was established in 1954. The imported wheat from U.S. aid was made into flour, and the flour bag was printed with the Sino-American Cooperation logo.
Figure 2: Flour bags during the period of US aid. The early flour bags were made of cotton, so many people would remake them into clothing, including underwear.
Figure 3: Flour bag - plastic material. The material of the bag for flour subsidy for the military in the later period had been changed to plastic.
Zhang Da-chun (Si-xi Worrying about the Country):
To the military and civilian compatriots of this nation: This is a very critical period. We are all special citizens. Everyone needs to know that the country is in trouble. The evil communists will surround and attack Taiwan at any time. The situation is very, very dire. However, all our military and civilian compatriots are very wealthy, and are getting richer every day. It is also very convenient to buy things, even TVs can be afforded now. However, you must know that it is not enough to have just money and glory, because with money, everything will spin into chaos, for examples, going to clubs, dancing, playing with women. For money, godsons would poison their godfathers. This is too nonsensical, so I say that we all need to know that it is okay to live without money. I did not bring money with me into this world and I won’t bring it with me when I die. Without money, even the floods wouldn’t be something to be scared of, would the communists? Also, it’s the newspaper. The newspaper should post government’s notices more often, post things that are ambitious, instead of not posting because there is no money. Post more government’s notices, post less bad things and bad news, then no one would be bad. All military and civilian compatriots of the nation, let’s save our compatriots, restore mainland, and give our children a good life. That’s the right thing to do.
Zhang Da-chun's short story, "Si-xi Worrying about the Country", has a vivid and sarcastic tone that describes an illiterate post-war migrant Zhu Si-xi. Under the guidance of his neighbor, Yang Ren-long, he starts reading the newspaper articles pasted on the walls as wallpaper. Later on, he writes a "notice" that mimics the tone of President Chiang and distributes it everywhere. This highlights how people's thoughts are being suppressed and how the reality is distorted under the authoritarian regime. Zhu Si-xi’s notice also symbolizes the dilemma post-war migrants faced, that they wanted to speak but just couldn’t find the right words for it. Instead, they could only piece together the fragments to express their chaotic minds.
Although we all collectively call the Chinese migrants who came to Taiwan after 1945 as the “mainlanders”, there are, in fact, very huge differences within this group of people. Many of the post-war migrants may have been captured as prisoners in mainland China, or they may have been exiled students or like the military writer Sang Pin-zai, who was exiled to Taiwan at the age of ten.
As far as " veterans" go, there was a world of difference in the military rank and the time of discharge. In 1952, the Korean War was coming to an end, and the government announced the <Armed Forces Military Personnel Marriage Act during the Period for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion>: Officers under the age of 28, as well as non-commissioned officers and soldiers, were not allowed to marry. At the same time, the implementation of the elite troops policy forced the old and weak soldiers to get discharged and extended the time limitation for discharge for the young, strong, and experienced non-commissioned officers.
Before the enactment of the <Act of Military Service for Officers and Non-commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces> in 1961, more than 80,000 officers were discharged. This group of veterans who were forced to retire due to military restrictions only received meager pension: Three months’ worth of salary, food expenses about four, five hundred dollars, plus a mosquito net, a straw mat, and two clothes.
This large group of veterans at the bottom had no relative to rely on, no living accommodation, and no life or medical insurance. Instead, they were alone, facing a Taiwanese society with language barriers and huge cultural differences. If they possess no skill or did not find a stable job, it was easy to fall into poverty at the very bottom of the social ladder.
Wei Zi-yun's <Review《Family Change》> was published in <China Daily News> in 1973. Wei Zi-yun analyzed the form of Wang Wen-xing's <Family Change> and criticized in his review that the familial and social values presented in <Family Change> were inconsistent with the traditional Confucian morals.
Lin Heng-tai wrote in The Undying Poetry Theory that "Poetry shall persist as long as one poet still writes poems." Lin consistently vitalized the poetic arts through his works of poetry and literary discussions.
Lin Heng-tai (1924- ), who wrote under the pen names of Heng Ren and Huan Tai, authored prose, critiques, and translations in addition to poetry. He first began composing modern poetry in 1941. Lin' s well-known poem The Cross-Language Generation describes the generation of writers, including himself, who in 1945 found themselves at the chaotic epicenter of Taiwan' s termination of 50 years of Japanese cultural and linguistic indoctrination and the enforced reintroduction of Mainland Chinese culture and language.
Lin entered Taiwan Normal University in 1946, joined the Ginreikai (Silver Bell) Poetry Society, participated in the school' s Hokkien (Taiwanese language) Drama Club and Longan Literary Art Club, and published poetry in Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News'sBridge Supplement and the Silver Bell Association's journal Tide. Later on, he joined literary clubs such as Modernism, Li Poetry Society, and The Taipei Chinese Pen. Lin once interpreted his own literary path as “Delimiting nativism via the modernist experience,” suggesting that, in addition to considering Lin Heng-tai' s well-known“modernist”perspective, his works should be studied and appreciated for their connections to themes of“nativism”,“localism”, and even“Taiwanese consciousness”.
Lin Heng-tai once remarked, "While landscapes depicted as preserved specimens or as domesticated objects may indeed be beautiful, I will leave such to be appraised by those cognizant of their 'value'. I will rather devote myself to seeking out places not yet trodden by these 'appraisers' ... places too savage and formidable to be deemed 'scenery'." Lin continually sought out and discovered "landscapes of genuine poetry".
Rather than pursuing so-called specimen landscapes "that seem tacked down by large pins" or supposedly beautiful scenes that, like livestock, have been "neutered by humans," Lin prized scenery that could "teach the genuine harshness that underlies the human condition," although they may bear "fearsome features" or be just "an ugly corner".
Image 1: Lin Heng-tai' s opening speech at the 3rd Conference for Asian Poets in 1988.
The Li Poetry Society held the 3rd Conference for Asian Poets in Taichung from January 14-17, 1988, and the 142th issue of Li was a special commemorative edition for this event. Lin Heng-tai, representing the poets of Taiwan, asked in his opening remarks, "What is poetry? This may forever be an unsolvable riddle. There are constantly those who try to lift its mystical veil and roughly assign meaning to it. However, poetry always finds a way to wiggle free from any definition given to it."
Lin Heng-tai had finished his "symbol" poems Wheels (Lunzi) and Houses (Fangwu) before Chi Hsien founded the Modernist School. Romance, Noise (Sao Yin), A Hot Day (Yan Ri), and A Traffic Accident (Che Huo) are among the many symbol poems he wrote afterward.
Chi Hsien, in his essay On the Poems of Lin Heng-tai, remarked that symbol poetry "appeals to sight"... It is "direct" and "makes use of suitable symbols in place of words in order to convey content." Chi believed that Lin "used them [symbols] well to extend the expressive potential (of the medium)."
Lin Heng-tai specialized in modern poetry. Sixty years have elapsed since the publication of his first collection, Birth Sounds of the Soul 《靈魂の產聲》to his latest, Poems of Life (Shengming zhi Shi). The title of his first collection refers to the vernal 'howls' of the author's soul, with Lin's youthful dreams and aspirations liberally nourishing the poetry within. His most recent publication Poems of Life was described by essayist Nikky Lin as "Lin Heng-tai's greatest commentary on life and poetry."
Chi Hsien also mentions Lin's Houses in his essay On the Poems of Lin Heng-tai, writing that:
"This [poem] is meant to be seen, not heard. It appeals to sight, not to hearing… The arrangement of the eight chi (齒), evokes the image of a house with closed shutters. The eight chuang (窗), then, represent open shutters. Apart from chi symbolizing "having laughed" (xiao le/ 笑了) and chuang symbolizing "having cried" (ku le/ 哭了), may they not also symbolize the chimneys of houses? In short, as a symbol poem, Houses indeed depicts houses, with the reader asked to open his eyes to see it. No general truths of life are woven into this poem. Only those as foolish as Longfellow use poems to preach."
Image 1: Lin Heng-tai's Birth Sounds of the Soul 《靈魂の產聲》(photocopy), Silver Bell Society Editing Team, 1949.
Lin Heng-tai's first collection of poems is in Japanese. Hsiao Chin-tui (Hsiao-wen) wrote in the foreword: "His poems hold a sense of deep sorrow. However, his grief, rather than wallowing in disillusionment with the world, expresses instead hope for a better tomorrow."
Image 2: Lin Heng-tai's A Dirtied Face (Nong Zang Le De Lian), 1972.
Lin took a break from writing in 1970 because of his chronic kidney disease. Two years later, he began anew and wrote this poem, which was published in the 48th issue of Li. Juan Mei-hui interpreted the poem in the context of the times. In the 1970s, Taiwan was facing rapid changes in international political and economic conditions that were spawning social unrest and widespread pessimism about the future. This poem expounds on the concept of "living in suffering, dying in peace" and uses the cause-and-effect between "a dirty face" (zang lian/ 臉髒) and "washing one's face" (xi lian/ 洗臉) to express the shameful apathy that he felt toward current affairs.
Image 3: Lin Heng-tai's Long Throat (Chang de Yan Hou), Hsin Kuang Bookstore, 1955.
Lin Heng-tai's first collection of Chinese poems included mostly crisply concise short poems, highlighting the author's gradual progression from creating in Japanese to creating in Chinese.
Chi Hsien invited Lin Heng-tai to join the newly founded Modernist School in 1956 and to serve on the editing team of its journal, Modern Poetry (Xiandai Shi). In addition to publishing avant-garde poetry, Lin also exhibited talent as a poetry critic. He eventually became the vanguard of a poetry movement formed by Taiwan's first generation of modern postwar poets. In Lin's 1992 essay The Theory of 'Undying Poetry’, he wrote: "Poetry shall persist as long as one poet still writes poems." In this statement, Lin was speaking both as a poet and a critic.
The Silver Bell Society
The Silver Bell Society was a literature and arts group founded in 1942 (during the Japanese Colonial Period) by three Taichung First Senior High School students, including Chu Shang-yi (Chu Shih), Chang Yen-hsun (Hung Meng), and Hsu Shih-ching (Hsiao Hsing). The society was later joined by others from around the island. The three began by binding their original manuscripts together into booklets to share and read.
They began formally publishing their works in a magazine they named Fuchigusa (ふちぐさ/ 縁草/Hedge Grass). However, publication was halted due to postwar political and economic instability. The magazine was later resurrected in 1948 under the name Trend Periodical (Chao Liu). In the same year, author Yang Kuei was invited to join as a consultant to guide the publication, although he was arrested in 1949 following the April 6 Incident. Other members of the publication were interrogated regarding their sympathies for / participation in the incident.
The tense political environment forced the Silver Bell Society to disband. The Silver Bell Society is likely the only literature and arts group in Taiwan with a history spanning the island's pre- and postwar eras. The society helped facilitate the transition of the New Literature movement from pre-1945 colonial Taiwan to post-1945 Taiwan and facilitated its further growth and development in the Republic of China era (1945- ).
Image 1: Lin Heng-tai's first collection of essays, The Fundamental Spirit of Modern Poetry: On Sincerity (Xiandai Shi De Jiben Jingshen: Lun Zhencheng Xing), Li Poetry Society, 1968.
"Only poets are sincere. They invariably grasp the entirety of mankind and, without hesitation, cast their lot with history and humanity."
Image 2: Lin Heng-tai, The Theory of 'Undying Poetry', 1992.
Published in the August 5th, 1992 issue of The China Times newspaper. When asked, "Will poetry die?" Lin declared, "Poetry shall persist as long as one poet still writes poems."
Lin's acceptance speech for the 1993 New Taiwan Literature Contribution Award centered on his poem The Revelation of a Mother Tongue (Muyu de Fajian). He spoke of the logic and necessity of using one's native language to create and of his determination to do so.
In reality, Lin Heng-tai had previously expressed such thoughts, as shown in the forewords he wrote for friends' poetry collections, in the acceptance speeches he has given at award ceremonies, and in the prefaces of his own works. Lin has a long history of composing poems, delivering lectures, and writing prose in his native Taiwanese (Minnan / Holo).
Image 1: Lin Heng-tai, National Language and Dialect – Foreword to Lin Chung-yuan's Collection of Poems 'Root' (draft; Guoyu Yu Fangyan – Lin Zongyuan Shiji Gen Xu ‘Cao Gao’), 1981.
Published in the 107th issue of Li in 1982. Lin stated, "All languages were once a dialect. No distinction can be made between a national language and a dialect... Hopefully, (my) use of Minnan will help elevate this everyday language into a language of literature."
Image 2: Lin Heng-tai, Father's Image and Mother's Tongue – Impressions of Chuang Po-lin's Collection of Poems in 'Northwestern Rain' (Fuqin Yixiang Yu Muqin Rousheng – Zhuang Bolin Shiji Xibeiyu Houdu Gan), 1992.
Published in the January 22nd, 1992 issue of The Taiwan Times. Lin wrote that Chuang Po-lin's "poetry is spoken in a primal voice. Regardless of which language Taiwanese use, nothing will ever be able to separate them from the 'primeaval sounds of their mother tongue’. This aptly reflects the reality of language usage in Taiwan."
Expanding into the growing economies of Southeast Asia was the dream of every earnest businessman in Taiwan during the early decades of the 20th century.
For Taiwanese, this region was rife with untapped potential ; a land brushed by gentle breezes and graced with dreamy tropical scenery where fortunes were simply waiting to be built. This idealized image of the' Southern Realms' attracted businessmen, travelers, investigators, Buddhist missionaries, betrothed women, and others, creating the foundations for a distinctive new literary genre steeped in the allure of the tropics.
Ting-lan Tsai, a Qing government official and native of Taiwan' s Penghu Archipelago, was the first Taiwanese known to have written a travelogue of his experiences overseas, after being shipwrecked along the coast of Central Vietnam in 1836. The trickle of Taiwanese into the region over the subsequent century significantly increased after the start of the Pacific War in 1941 when Japan, of which Taiwan was a colony, occupied much of the region.
This exhibition begins with the historically important cross-border marriage between two powerful families in, respectively, Banqiao (northern Taiwan) and Medan (northern Sumatra, Indonesia). This' joining of forces’ set the framework for the introduction and transformation of classical Taiwanese poetry in Southeast Asia. This exhibition assumes the perspective of Peranakan (Southeast Asian Chinese) Queeny (Fu-ying) Chang (1896-1986) and examines the motivations that encouraged Taiwanese literati to travel to Southeast Asia during this period. The literary contributions of Peranakan authors, replete with descriptions of the region's people, products, climate, and scenery, is also introduced. Furthermore, exhibition visitors follow Queeny and her husband, Ching-jen Lin, on their travels through Xiamen (China) and Taiwan, providing a rare window on the Lin family' s earlier emigration from Taiwan to coastal China and, ultimately, to Southeast Asia.
Queeny Chang' s autobiography Memories of a Peranakan sets the stage for this exhibition' s introduction to how Taiwanese classical poetry traditions took root and ultimately thrived in the 'Southern Realms'. From the distinct and circumspect perspective of Peranakan women, this exhibition reveals the unique set of historical conditions that led Taiwan's Lin family to breach national, ethnic, linguistic, artistic, and cultural boundaries to form indelible links with its new home in Southeast Asia. This exhibition further introduces the literary impact of the Peranakan experience and the interactive relationship between Taiwan's classical literary genre and Southeast Asia.
The emigration of well-educated Taiwanese men and women to Southeast Asia was more than just a clash of cultures, perspectives, and ideas. It created a unique body of work that added beautiful new threads to this region' s richly polychromatic tapestry.
In 1912, an exchange of photographs and the gifting of a pair of gold bracelets sealed the marriage of Fu-ing Chang, daughter of a northern Sumatran rubber tycoon, to Ching-jen Lin, son of a well-heeled family in Banqiao Taiwan. The two had never met.
She spoke Hakka Chinese peppered with Malay. He spoke Holo (a dialect of Hokkien Chinese spoken in Taiwan). They spent their wedding night smiling embarrassedly at one another. Little at this time suggested that this awkward, unfamiliar couple would become the highly influential husband and wife team of King and Queeny. Together, these two not only changed the future of their respective families but also created the foundations for exchange between the classical literary traditions of Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Six decades later, Fu-ing (Queeny) Chang wrote Memories of a Peranakan, which set the stage for all that followed.
The 'Southern Realms' reflect a Sino-centric view of the world. From the 14th century onward, Chinese saw this region, which covers the Indochina Peninsula, Philippine Islands, and Indonesian islands, as attractive destinations for emigration, with many from Middle Kingdom making the southward journey by boat.
In the 16th century, the 'Western' nations of Western Europe viewed the lands bordering the eastern Indian Ocean and beyond as the 'Far East' and saw this region as ripe for economic exploitation and development. In the 19th century, Japan fostered the doctrine of Nanshin-ron (southern expansion), which divided the 'Southern Realms' into Soto Nan'yō (the Outer Southern Seas) and Nai Nan'yō (the Inner Southern Seas). Soto Nan'yō encompassed lands close to the East Asian mainland, including Taiwan, the Philippine archipelago, and the Indonesian archipelago, while Nai Nan'yō covered most of the islands diffused across the Western Pacific north of the Equator.
The term 'Southern Realms' gradually fell out of common usage after the Second World War and was replaced with 'Southeast Asia', a geographical term with boundaries tied to its eleven constituent countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Timor-Leste.
In 1835, Ting-lan Tsai, a minor Chinese official returning to his home in the Penghu Archipelago after taking the Imperial Provincial Examinations in Fujian Province, was caught in a typhoon that set him adrift. He eventually landed on the shores of Vietnam, where he stayed for over three months, exploring the land and its culture. "Finding myself in a foreign land through adversity, I endeavor to make an investigation of local affairs."His Southern Seas Miscellany is the earliest-known Chinese travelogue on this region.
The early 20th century marked a high watermark for visits by well-educated Taiwanese to the region. Most went for business, while smaller numbers went for travel or for religious missionary work. Those few who purposefully emigrated to the region, either to seal already-arranged marriages or as part of Imperial China's southern expansion policy, stayed to make a new home, establishing businesses and schools.
1900: Feng-chia Chiu visited his friend Singapore to see his bosom friend Seok Wan Khoo (Shu-yuan Chiu). During his 4-month stay, he visited Penang, Ipoh, and Kuala Lumpur. Apart from visiting Chinese émigré communities in the region, Chiu sought donations from these communities for a school he was planning to build.
1905: Ju-chuan Shieh, a Chinese-language reporter for Taiwan's colonial-era newspaper Taiwan Nichinichi Shinpo, became Editor-in-Chief of the Manila-based Kong Li Po, ultimately establishing close ties to businesses and industries across Southeast Asia.
1922~1923: Hsin Hwang toured the region, visiting Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Penang (Malaysia), and Thailand.
1927: During his grand trip to Europe and the Americas, Hsien-tang Lin made stops in Singapore and Penang.
Shan-hui Chiang and Ben-yuan Shen were two key figures from Taiwan who went to the 'Southern Realms' as (Buddhist) missionaries. They traveled throughout the region, even making it as far as Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma. Chiang's Diary of My Journey to the West is her memoir of her sojourn at Penang's Kek Lok Si Temple.
Chiang traveled deeply through Southeast Asia. The "Zen Gateway" column in the 186th issue of Nanpō (The South) published on November 15th, 1943 exalted Chiang’s accomplishments: Shan-hui Chiang embodies both talent and good morals. He is a pioneer who has paved the way forward for his fellow Formosan monks. … His contributions to religious education on our island are obvious to all. He is the former abbot at Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang.
Educated Taiwanese viewed the vast resources of the 'Southern Realms' as a prize that was more than worth the many challenges and pitfalls in the way.
Hsin Hwang made many trips to Vietnam and the Philippines on business. Nan-ying Hsu spent two years in Singapore and Bangkok working on business deals that ultimately failed to pan out. At Ching-jen (King) Lin's invitation, Hsu returned a second time to the region, staying in Medan, Sumatra, where he wrote a biography of Medan business magnate Tjong A Fie (aka Tjong Yiauw Hian and Hung-nan Chang). Hsu died in Southeast Asia.
Ching-jen Lin's marriage to the daughter of an overseas Chinese family in Southeast Asia was typical of arranged marriages at the time. These marriages helped expand family business interests and fortunes. Lin ultimately settled in Indonesia because the climate was better for his health.
Ching-jen Lin's marriage to the daughter of an overseas Chinese family in Southeast Asia was typical of arranged marriages at the time. These marriages helped expand family business interests and fortunes. Lin ultimately settled in Indonesia because the climate was better for his health.
【Dream of the Southern Realms】
During the first half of the 20th century, Japan viewed Taiwan both as a springboard for the country's ambitions in southeastern China and as a hub for political and economic interactions with Southeast Asia. Thus, the 'Southern Realms' was a region in which contemporary Taiwanese naturally yearned to be more involved.
Lâu Khek-bêng (Ko-ming Liu) and Erh-tsai Yang coauthored Seeing a Friend Off to the Southern Realms, a poem that evokes imagery of the region's riches and admits envy at their friend's adventures to come. Shih-sheng Pan recorded in his travelogue Notes from a Southern Excursion that "This blessed and unspoiled land beckons. It is an endless trove of treasure, with good prospects for trade, farming, animal husbandry, mining, and fisheries. What capitalist, businessman, or other man of foresight wouldn't cross thousands of miles with all haste to reach the south side of the Equator?" Pan also noted that the keys to a successful passage to the Southern Realms were "Firstly, sufficient funds; secondly, a good education in Chinese; and thirdly, patience and someone to help you make introductions."
GroupsIndonesia encompasses a patchwork of ethnicities. The island of Sumatra for example is home to three major ethnic groups (Acehnese, Batak, and Minangkabau) in addition to Malays. The Batak of northern Sumatra have their own written language (also known as Batak). The Batak script uses a syllabic alphabet (or abugida) and is used almost exclusively by local clergy for activities such as setting the annual calendar and keeping records of religious rites.
Ching-jen (King) Lin offers significant commentary on Sumatra's indigenous peoples in poetic efforts such as Berastagi Temple, A Visit to the Chief of Berastagi, The Berastagi Chief's Altar, and Kabanjahe Native Perspectives on the Berastagi Festival.
Taiwanese literary descriptions of Southeast Asia's produce are found primarily in Ching-jen (King) Lin's works, with his descriptions of rambutans, coconuts, tea, coffee, diamonds, and the malaria medication quinine used to highlight the region's unique character. Other Taiwanese authors with experience in Medan (Sumatra) described mangosteens (Nan-ying Hsu in Mang He Bing Xu) and local specialty products (Hsin Huang in Bu Yi Tai You Xu) in their works.
The climate across Southeast Asia tends toward hot and humid. Ching-jen (King) Lin used poetic turns of phrase such as "Torrid heat curses even the depths of winter; Haze veils the rising sun,” “Towns left soaked in the retreating tide", "The mists of autumn bring a damp fetor to the city," and "Dreaming of rain; Fantasizing on Fiery Clouds" to describe the region's climate.
"The Chang family in Medan traced its immediate origins to Guangdong and Fujian Provinces and then even farther back to Central China. Poverty had led the Chang clan’s eldest son Yu-nan (1851-1911) to join the growing wave of emigrants seeking a better life in Southeast Asia. His brother Hung-nan later followed in Yu-nan’s footsteps, settling and building a new life in Medan (Sumatra) in the Dutch East Indies.
Alone in a strange and unfamiliar land, Chinese immigrants from similar areas in China formed fraternal associations (tongxianghui) for support and protection. Originally under the patronage of Fatt Tze Cheong (1844-1916), Yu-nan Chang and his brother later formed a close-knit association with leaders of the Penang Chinese community, including Choon Sen Cheah, Thye Phin Chung, Ah Fook Wong, and Kong Chain Lee. Fatt Tze Cheong, Choon Sen Cheah, Thye Phin Chung, and Ah Fook Wong were all members of the Kwangtung (Guangdong) Fraternal Association.
The Chang brothers invested their energies and talents and leveraged their relationships through the Kwangtung Fraternal Association to create a network that connected overseas Chinese throughout Southeast Asia. In response, the Dutch colonial government bestowed the official titles of 'Kapitan' and 'Lieutenant' on the Chang brothers, requesting that the two to manage overseas Chinese affairs in the Dutch East Indies on their behalf.
The Chang's star burned bright across Southeast Asia, reaching into nearly every major industry. Both wealthy and respectable, the Chang brothers had become legends in their own time, living lives of pampered luxury.
【 Fu-ing (Queeny) Chang】Queeny Chang (1896-1986): Wife of the eldest son of Banqiao's leading Lin family, first daughter-in-law of Er-jia Lin, and daughter of Medan business magnate Tjong A Fie (Hung-nan Chang). According to her own account in Memories of a Peranakan, she had large eyes, a flat nose, sun-darkened skin, a freckled face, and rather large feet.During childhood, an older cousin had taught her Confucius' Analects and other literary classics. She had a knack for learning languages. In addition to Hakka and Malay, Queeny was also conversant in English and French. According to her family, in addition to writing Chinese poetry, she also wrote theatrical scripts, including the script for the Shaw Brothers Pictures (Hong Kong) release of Life with Mother (1960).Memories of a Peranakan is a later-life self-reflection on the two most important men in Queeny's life – her father Tjong A Fie and her husband Ching-jen Lin. It is also a personal record of the Chinese community in the 'Southern Realms' during the early 20th century, giving scholars important insights into the contemporary culture character of Taiwan, Fujian, and Southeast Asia as well as the cultural interplay amongst these three areas.
【 Father: A Fie Tjong】
Hung-nan Chang (1860-1921), born in Mei County, Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province, China was known to many of his contemporaries as A Fie Tjong. In Queeny's eyes, her father was tall in stature and handsome. He had an "angular face and high-set forehead, and his skin had a bright bronze tone."
Chang had followed his older brother to the 'Southern Realms' in 1880. His first job was looking after a small general store. His hard-working attitude and social skills earned him an appointment as a local representative of the Chinese community. Chang's purchase of a rubber plantation elevated his position further as a landowner. He was known for his generosity and support of charitable works – both within the Kwangtung Fraternal Association and wider Medan community. After the death of his older brother Yu-nan, A Fie Tjong (Hung-nan Chang) inherited his brother's prestigious title of Kapitan and ultimately became Medan's wealthiest businessman.
【Uncle: Yiauw Hian Tjong (aka Yuk Nam Cheong)】
Yu-nan Chang (1860-1921), born in Mei County, Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province, China was known to many of his contemporaries as Yiauw Hian Tjong. Queeny remembered her uncle as a tall man with white skin and long fingers. He spoke in gentle tones. He was widely respected and was ambitious in his endeavors.
Yu-nan and Fatt Tze Cheong went into business together in 1878, creating several agriculture and trading companies as well as a bank. Yu-nan was Medan's wealthiest Chinese citizen, was a major investor in China's Chao-Chow & Swatow Railway Company, and even had an audience with China's Empress Dowager Cixi. When making a return visit to his hometown in China, Queeny wrote, her uncle, "wore a Chinese cap with a red-coral clasp and a dragon-embroidered robe and rode atop a red-roofed palanquin. The villagers bowed down in reverence."
【 Mother: Suk Tak Lam】
Shu-teh Lin (1879-1972) was the daughter of a Medan-based Chinese overseer and his Sumatran wife. Suk Tak Lam was a true Peranakan. As remembered by Queeny, her mother was young and beautiful and lovingly devoted to her family. She also rebelled against contemporary mores and had a strong sense of her own self-worth. She opposed social conventions that gave women a lower social status and strongly supported monogamous marriages – forbidding her husband to marry other women, as many wealthy men of the age did.
Although illiterate, she wanted all of her children to have a good education. To ensure their acceptance in contemporary colonial society, she made sure that they learned Dutch, learned to read and write, and gained a sophisticated familiarity with the social conventions of Dutch East Indies' multiethnic society.
【Fatt Tze Cheong】
Chao-hsieh Chang, a native of Dapu in Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province, China, was known to many of his contemporaries as Fatt Tze Cheong. Queeny remembered him as stern in appearance and regularly surrounded by courtesans and servants.
Fatt Tze Cheong ran mining companies, shipping firms, and multiple banks in Batavia (Jakarta) and Penang as well as pharmacies across the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He served the Qing Imperial Court as Supervisor of the Canton-Hankow Railway and as Chancellor for External Investigations in the Ministry of Commerce. After the fall of the Qing Dynasty, Cheong served as Presidential Advisor, Member of the Constitutional Council, and in the new Council of State of the Republic of China under its first President, Yuan Shi-kai. He was one of the most powerful and influential overseas Chinese of his age.
【Thye Phin Chung】
Thye Phin Chung, son of the Cantonese tin-mining magnate Keng Quee Chung, was a former Kapitan of Perak in northwestern Malaysia. Queeny described him wearing white riding breeches, a sky-blue long-sleeved jacket, and pleated white shirt smartly paired with a scarf across his neck. His head was capped with a snowy-white wig. His hands lay gently on a small table, showing the large diamond ring on his pinky finger. He held in his left hand the colorful edge of a white handkerchief. Chung maintained well the image of an elegant and dignified aristocrat.
【 Ah Fook Wong】
Wong was born in Guangdong Province and began his career as a carpenter. He served as the main contractor for many Johor (Malaysia) government offices and other (now historic) buildings in the state capital of Johor Bahru, including the Grand Palace. He also owned gambier and pepper plantations and managed a bonded district. Wong founded Malaysia's first Chinese-owned bank (Kwong Yik Bank) and Kwangtung Fraternal Association of Jahor.
【Choon Seng Cheah】
Chun-sheng Hsieh, a native of Mei County, Guangdong (Kwangtung) Province, was known to many of his contemporaries as Choon Seng Cheah. This famed Penang-based Chinese businessman and philanthropist was remembered by Queeny as wearing a traditional, loose-fitting mandarin jacket and comfortable black-silk pants. He was, she wrote, "A very alluring and boisterous young man who had taken three wives."
Later on, Cheah focused his efforts on developing business interests in northern Sumatra's Aceh region. He was a provisions supplier to the military and earned the title of Kapitan. He moved to Penang in 1890 and cofounded a tin-mining company. He also joined Fatt Tze Cheong, Yiauw Hian Tjong, and A Fie Tjong as an investor in the Swatow – Chaochow Railway.
【Kong Chain Lee】
Kong Chain Lee (Kuang-chien Lee), a native of Fujian Province in China, was a major Southeast Asian rubber tycoon. Queeny remembered Lee for his witty humor, realistic predilections, and distain for impractical baubles. He had little use for common vices such as gambling, drinking, and singing. He married Ai Leh Tan, the eldest daughter of Singapore businessman and philanthropist Kah Kee Tan. Lee founded Singapore's Lee Rubber Company, Ltd., engaged actively in charitable work and education, and promoted the establishment of new schools. He was awarded an honorary degree in law by the University of Malaya. The Sultans of both Kelantan and Johor bestowed on Lee the honorific title of 'Dato'.
Taiwan Nichinichi Shinpo (October 22nd, 1912); date: Xiamen; title: "Lin Family Scion Prepares to Wed", reporting on the impending wedding of Ching-jen (King) Lin and Fu-ing (Queeny) Chang. "Er-jia Lin of Gulang Islet, who returned only last fall to Taiwan to escape the unstable conditions there, is believed to have once again returned to his island home off Amoy (Xiamen). His visit to Lu-Chiang may have had something to do with arranging the marriage of his eldest son.
Investigations show that a match has already been made with Yiauw Hian Tjong of Chang-Tai. The woman had previously agreed to the match and is now of age. Er-jia Lin welcomes and looks forward to the marriage. Sufficient funds for travel expenses, rumored to total some 3,000 yen, have been sent to the girl's family and the dowry is said to be worth over 10,000 yen. The Lin family's impressive fortunes may be deduced from this small detail.
The report notes that the Lin family went abroad to find a suitable match as well as comments about the great expenses involved in travel and the dowry. This underscores the weighty contemporary significance of these two families uniting in marriage.
"The Lin Clan first arrived in Taiwan with Ying-yin Lin (1766 - 1844). His son amassed the family's initial business fortune, which was divvied up into five enterprises run by his five sons (Kuo-tung, Kuo-jen, Kuo-hua, Kuo-ying, and Kuo-fang). Kuo-hua and Kuo-fang, brothers from the same mother, coordinated their business efforts under the name Lin Ben Yuan. It was two fourth-generation sons of the Lin clan (Wei-jang and Wei-yuan) who first set up residence in the northern Taiwan town of Banqiao, founding the Lin dynasty in the area. Today's Lin Family Mansion and Garden was largely finished under the direction of Wei-yuan Lin. Wei-yuan had five sons: Huai-hsun (who died in infancy), Er-jia, Tzu-shou, Po-shou, and Sung-shou.
As one of Taiwan's preeminent families, the Lins of Banqiao used political relationships and charitable donations to compensate for their lack of formal status earned through success on the Imperial
Taiwan Nichinichi Shinpo (May 22nd, 1923); title: "The Ben Yuan Clan - Shining with Talent". The second-generation head of our fair island's renowned Lin Ben Yuan clan Mr. Er-jia Lin has seven sons who are each as exceptional as the other. The eldest, Ching-jen, is renowned for his literary endeavors in works such as 'Lake Toba' and others. The second and third eldest are now studying at Cambridge in London, and have been earning good marks. The fourth, Tzong-chih, and fifth, Lu-hsin, are both studying this year at Imperial University. The former is pursuing a BSc with a focus on plant cell biology, while the latter is pursuing his B.A. in sociology.
This detailed listing of the accomplishments of Er-jia' s children underscores the prestige of this family.
【Ching-jen Lin (1893-1940)】Ching-jen, the eldest son of Er-jia Lin, was born in Taiwan and raised in China. A citizen of the Japanese Empire, he died in Manchukuo (Japan's prewar protectorate in Northeast China). He had strong cultural foundations and had good proficiencies in English, Japanese, and French. He married Fu-ing (Queeny) Chang, the daughter of the South Seas Rubber King A Fie Tjong in 1912, moving first to Xiamen and then to Medan in Sumatra. From 1915 until his return to China in 1923, he maintained his primary residence in Medan because of the positive effects of the tropical climate on his health. He completed two collections of poetry, Voyage in Berastagi and Lake Toba, while in Medan.
Ching-jen (King) Lin was the first author of the Japanese Colonial Period to write poetry about the Southern Realms in Chinese. The poems voice the author's feelings about living in an unfamiliar land and touch upon his investigations of Chinese poetry groups in the region, offering a vivid picture of contemporary Southeast Asia.
【Er-jia Lin (1875-1951)】
A descendant of the Lin clan of Longxi Township near Macau in Guangzhou (Kwangtung) Province, China, Er-jia Lin was born in Taipei as the son of Wei-yuan Lin. After Imperial China's cessation of Taiwan to Japan in 1895, Er-jia traveled with his father across the Taiwan Strait to Gulang Islet off the coast of Xiamen, China. He served as an official advisor to the Qing Dynasty Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, Member of the Ministry of Finance Currency Committee, and Member of the Fujian Provincial Committee on Mining. He built Shuzhuang Garden on the islet in 1913 and established the Shuzhuang Poetry Society the year after.
In 1924, Er-jia traveled to Switzerland to recover from poor health, staying in Europe for 7 years before returning to China. With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, Er-jia moved to Hong Kong, where he stayed until making his final move back to Taiwan in 1949. In Taiwan, he founded the Xiaohutian Poetry Society as a platform for sharing good literature and wine. A collection of his poems entitled Mr. Lin Shuzhuang's Poetry Manuscripts was published after his death.
【Kang-yi Lin (Kong Geev Lim; dates of birth and death uncertain)】
Er-jia Lin's second son, Kang-yi, graduated from the Kobe City College of Technology. His wife, Chen-ying Wang, was the daughter of Ching-hsiang Wang, who was a leading figure in Kobe's overseas Chinese community. Kang-yi maintained and organized his father's poetic endeavors, many of which he published in Mr. Lin Shuzhuang's Poetry Manuscripts, for which he wrote the foreword.
【Ting-lee Lin (1895-1973)】
Ting-lee, the third son of Er-jia Lin, graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. In 1930, he accepted a position as President of the Amoy Academy and, in 1933, became Managing Director of Shanghai-based China & South Sea Bank. Ting-lee relocated to Taiwan in 1946. His wife, Hui-ing Sun, was the daughter of the Military Governor of Fujian Province, Dao-jen Sun.
【Tzong-chih Lin (1897-1996)】
Tzong-chih, Er-jia's fourth son, graduated from Tokyo Imperial University with a BSc in botany. He became President of Tzi-Chin Girls' Secondary School in Amoy (Xiamen) in 1927 and relocated to Taiwan in 1949. Tzong-chih's wife, Chu Chou, was the daughter of the Governor of Fujian Province, Lien Chou. Tzong-chih became a member of the Taiwan Provincial Historical Records Committee in 1952 and founded Nanshan Vocational School and Daguan Kindergarten in 1962. He was the publisher of Taiwan Folkways magazine and, in 1976, cofounded with his uncle the Lin Ben Yuan Chinese Cultural Education Foundation, with a focus on Taiwan-related studies and research. He published Perspectives on Biology as well as academic papers on Taiwanese plants.
The inspiration for creating Shuzhuang Garden on Gulang Islet off the coast of Xiamen in China came from Er-jia Lin's fond memories of the pavilions and buildings on the grounds of the Lin Family estate in Banqiao, Taiwan. The name 'Shuzhuang' was inspired by one of his familiar names. How do the two sections of the garden interrelate? An engraving in a large stone on the garden grounds offers this explanation:
Our family comes from Taipei, where our estate in Banqiao abounds in pavilions, terraces, ponds, and buildings. Amidst studies, one may revel in the shade of trees, listen to a myriad of birds, and take pleasure in all. In the invasion of our land, we crossed the Strait and now live displaced on Gulang Islet, looking eastward toward home and remembering fondly times that are now memories.
The gardens of the Lin family estate in Banqiao held treasured memories of childhood for Er-jia. Shuzhuang Garden was his attempt to recreate a similar garden landscape on Gulang Islet that recaptured what had long been lost in the sands of time. The names of pavilions and buildings in the garden, like Meishou Hall and Huixiang Room, were inspired by his wife's name, which further accentuated the garden's close association with Er-jia Lin's memories and nostalgic sensibilities.
Shuzhuang Garden, set between the hills and the sea, was designed to be in close harmony with its natural surroundings, with each section contoured to promote balance between land and water.
Chi Shen described each pavilion and terrace in his Foreword to Poems on Shuzhuang:
The abodes of the 12 Immortals are at Bu Shan Yuan; There are 44 bridges at Cang Hai Yuan; There is a pavilion at Tan-Ying, a terrace at Guan-Shou, a building at Ting-Chao, and a pavilion at Chao-Liang; There is a hall at Mei-Shou and a tower at Renqiu; Enjoy chrysanthemums at Wu-Lu and plum blossoms at Xiang-Hai; Ceremonies are held in Xiao-Lan, where evenings are serene; A zither tuned amidst the greenery, words casually penned in the building atop the hill; Beautiful scenes too numerous to count. The Wanshi Building mentioned as set "atop the hill" was Er-jia' s personal study, while Wu-Lu was a courtyard planted in a variety of chrysanthemum flowers.
1914: Er-jia Lin founds the Shuzhuang Poetry Society, which offers poets an outlet to express their nostalgic longings for home and a platform for sharing between intellectuals from Taiwan and Fujian.
The Society, centered on the Lin family, brought together 3 types of intellectuals:
1. The accomplished elite of the recently fallen Qing Dynasty. Examples include Hai-mei Chen and Wang-tseng Chen;
2. Frustrated / dejected men of letters from around China who for one reason or another ended up in Xiamen. Examples include Ao-chiao Shen and Chu-nung Chuang;
3. Refugees from the 1895 Japanese occupation of Taiwan. Examples include Shih-chieh Shih, Nan-ying Hsu, Chun-yuan Wang, Ko-jen Tsai, Shu-nan Tsai, and Kan Shih.
In one poem, Er-jia Lin describes that, “In no time, the ranks of our new society were half-filled by outcasts from the east.” Despite its relatively isolated location on Gulang Islet, the Shuzhuang Poetry Society had regular and vibrant interactions with Taiwanese poets.
In leaving Taiwan after Japanese occupation, Taiwanese poets more than just lost their homes. They were cut off from familiar surroundings and interpersonal networks. In China, the lives of Shih-chieh Shih, Nan-ying Hsu, and Chun-yuan Wang, for example, were far from easy. Er-jia Lin’s Shuzhuang Poetry Society offered a center of gravity for compatriot poets from Taiwan who had found refuge in China and encouraged their continued literary pursuits.
【Shih-chieh Shih (1856-1922)】
Shih-chieh was born in Tainan, Taiwan to Ching-fang Shih, a Qing imperial official. He took his Imperial Provincial Examinations in 1876 and, after returning to Taiwan, taught at various schools and academies, including Bai Sha, Tainan Tong Wen, Dao Hsueh, and Hai-Tung. He was considered, along with Feng-chia Chiu and Nan-ying Hsu, as one of the three greatest poets of Qing-era Taiwan. After arriving in Xiamen during the Japanese takeover of Taiwan, Shih-chieh developed a strong friendship with the Lin family and served as Ching-jen Lin’s teacher. Later in life, he dedicated himself to literary activities at Shuzhuang Garden, dying on Gulang Islet in 1922 due to illness. Shih-chief's major works include Poems from Zhen Garden, A Poetic Homage to Hou Su-Kan, and A Literary Homage to Hou Su-Kan.
【 Nan-ying Hsu (1855-1917)】
Nan-ying was born in Tainan, Taiwan, studied at the city’s Hai-Tung Academy, and passed the Imperial Provincial Examination in 1890. During the 1895-1896 takeover of Taiwan by Japan, Nan-ying crossed the Taiwan Strait from Anping to Xiamen. He later traveled to Singapore and other destinations in the ‘Southern Realms’. In 1916, at the request of Er-jia Lin, he traveled to Medan in the Dutch East Indies to meet with the head of the overseas Chinese community there, Tjong A Fie (Hung-nan Chang), to write his biography. He kept up lively correspondences with friends in the Shuzhuang Poetry Society throughout his time in Southeast Asia. Nan-ying died abroad of illness in 1917. His works include Perusing in a Garden.
【Chun-yuan Wang (1869-1923)】
Chun-yuan was born in Tainan, Taiwan and was Feng-chia Chiu's classmate at Hai-Tung Academy. He was a member of several of Tainan's most prominent poetry societies of the period. Chun-yuan, together with first-grade Qing official Ching-chi Lee and Ti-yen Yeh, penned a letter to the Imperial Censorate expressing their collective opposition to the Qing Government’s ceding of Taiwan to Japan. He was also a member of the ‘Gongche Shangshu'Movement, which demanded that the Emperor renounce the unfair terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (which ended the First Sino-Japanese War and ceded Taiwan to Japan). Chun-yuan passed the Imperial Provincial Examination in 1903, becoming Taiwan’s last person to do so. He was proficient in poetry and prose as well as painting. He joined the Shuzhuang Poetry Society at the invitation of Er-jia Lin in 1914. He died in 1923 in Longxi Township, Guangdong Province. His works include A Collection of Poems and Prose from Willow Pond.
【Firsthand Research Data】
Queeny Chang's Memories of a Peranakan is written based on her personal experiences and observations, providing invaluable insights into the life and experiences of classical Taiwanese poet Ching-jen (King) Lin. Ching-jen suffered a mild heart attack early on, and regularly used a cane for walking from his mid-20s onward. He eschewed activities that were overly exciting or exertive and, instead, poured his energies into his passion for writing and reading poetry. Memories of a Peranakan provides firsthand insights and observations on Ching-jen Lin, on the formalities and luxuries of life with the Lin family, and on interrelationships within this prominent family. This book is irreplaceable as a reference for anyone doing research on the Lin Family of Banqiao.
【Memories of a Peranakan, Voyage in Berastagi, and Lake Toba】
Memories of a Peranakan is worth comparing and contrasting with Ching-jen's own works to add richness and detail to their overall presentations. For example, the 'Berastagi' referred to in Ching-jen's poems is a district near Medan where locals go to escape the summer heat. Berastagi was where Tjong A Fie maintained a countryside residence. Lake Toba includes Ching-jen's "Jottings while Recovering to Health", which he wrote while in Singapore. As related in Memories of a Peranakan, Ching-jen had contracted appendicitis, which, because of a delay in treatment, had devolved into potentially deadly peritonitis. It was the timely intervention of well-known Singapore physician Boon Keng Lim that saved his life and saw him back to health.
【 Magical Synergy of Poetry and Song】Memories of a Peranakan is worth comparing and contrasting with Ching-jen's own works to add richness and detail to their overall presentations. For example, the 'Berastagi' referred to in Ching-jen's poems is a district near Medan where locals go to escape the summer heat. Berastagi was where Tjong A Fie maintained a countryside residence. Lake Toba includes Ching-jen's “Jottings while Recovering to Health", which he wrote while in Singapore. As related in Memories of a Peranakan, Ching-jen had contracted appendicitis, which, because of a delay in treatment, had devolved into potentially deadly peritonitis. It was the timely intervention of well-known Singapore physician Boon Keng Lim that saved his life and saw him back to health.
【The Eternal Light of the 'Wafting Beacon'】
Fu-ing (Queeny) Chang spent years helping her husband through his chronic ill health. They spent much time in Berastagi reading and researching literature. As Ching-jen worked on his two major undertakings (Voyage in Berastagi and Lake Toba), he encouraged his wife to create classical Chinese poetry of her own. In Memories of a Peranakan, she recalls these times spent surrounded in poetry and song with her husband as the best of her life.
【The Eternal Light of the 'Wafting Beacon'】
In the final years of her life, Queeny put the final words of Memories of a Peranakan to paper surrounded by Berastagi cooling breezes. It was her farewell to those many precious years and countless experiences. At the intersection of so much history and heritage, she has left an eternal, wafting beacon of light.
Twenty years of ups and downs, how has this worn on our affections?; Beautiful cherry blossoms blooming without care, jumbled on the ground after an evening's squall; Fate stands against us, though our feelings remain; How may those adrift find their way home?; Looking across this endlessly flowing river, I greet my departure with a sad nostalgia.
This beacon moves not only to remember the emotive memories of a Peranakan, but also to celebrate all Taiwanese men and women of letters who traveled through, lived in, and shared experiences with the Southern Realms in the early 20th century and their triumph over myriad cultural and linguistic challenges. Their literary works have an indelible place and importance in the history of Taiwan literature.
Books, which preserve human memory and evade time, have been journeying with us for two thousand and five hundred years. A book's text and symbols, along with its external binding and cover, also traverses the intersection between thought and time.
The exhibition circles around "Book Binding", shedding light on the different aspects of publications. The exhibition is composed of five sections: "Inscription on the Bone", "Secret in the Scroll's Heart", "Butterfly Spreading Wings", "Stride with Technology" and "Marks on the Hearts of Kids". With the exhibits following chronological order, we sail through the history of Taiwan's binding technology.
There are many special forms of Taiwanese books in the exhibition, such as Buddhist scriptures, the " Concertina-Fold", Cover designs, Limited edition works, Illustrations, and Paperbacks influenced by Japanese and Western culture in the early 20th century. In addition, in order to resonate with Children’s Literature Reading Room (1F), the children's books are also included in this exhibition. In the early eighteenth century, Western publishers began to publish fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and picture books for children which developed various children's literature genres. Taiwan has also kept pace with the times.
This exhibition, " Ties That Bind：More Than Just Books ", is co-organized by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and the Department of Art History at Tainan National University of the Arts. With the museum providing collection resources and technical support, and the university offering students the chance to curate in a prestigious museum, the exhibition is truly the combination of theories and practice.
Before the invention of paper, there were various materials that were written on, based on people’s different needs.
Mesopotamia Cuneiform is the earliest script. Before the 12th century BCE, at the behest of emperors, Chinese people inscribed symbols on bones for fortune telling, which later became the widely-known Oracle bone script. Around the same time, Chinese people started inscribing on bronze-ware in memory of great heroes. Later on, both east and west started stele inscriptions.
However, whether it is Oracle bone script, ritual bronzes inscriptions, or stele, they are not only very limited with the number of words that can be documented, but also inconvenient to travel with. Thus, around the 6th BCE, bamboo/wooden slips and silk in China became the medium of documenting.
Paper originated in China and was widely used for writing and painting beginning in the late 2nd century. Meanwhile, book binding continued to be made of Bamboo and wooden slips, primarily in scroll form. With the advancement of relief printing technology, book bindings started to vary gradually and Leaflet and album leaf became the first popular choices. Soon after, the rise of Concertina-Fold and Palm-Leaf Scriptures marked the ending point of Bamboo and wooden slips.
Image 1:Palm-Leaf Binding, Palm-Leaf Scriptures, Palm-Leaf, Each 24x3.5 cm, 11 pages, Private Collection
In order to make palm leaves fit for writing, the leaves have to be processed in a special manner. In practice, several steps are necessary before the leaves can be used as material for writing. Writing on a palm leaf requires a different technique than writing on a sheet of paper. The tool necessary for writing on palm-leaf folios is a stylus.
Concertina-Fold was far from perfect due to how easily it broke. In order to improve this flaw, Butterfly-Fold Binding and Three-Leaf Panel folds were invented. Later on, Traditional Chinese Thread Binding was invented to strengthen the books'structure, which enabled it to prevail and became the most common form of antique book binding. The progression was not merely for convenience, it represents the combination of art and technology. Book binding became a part of the handcrafting profession.
Image 2:Japanese Binding（Four Hole Binding）, Natural Philosophy, Shuzo Omori, 1868, Paper, 12.1x18.2 cm, Private Collection
After the invention of Chinese traditional thread binding, Japan and Korea adapted the style for their own publications. In terms of book size, Korean binding is larger than Chinese ones, and both are larger than the Japanese bindings. In terms of proportions, Korean style has five signature holes located closer to the edges, while Chinese style has four holes.
Making a book required great effort and wealth. Striving to glorify God in the Christian church, monks would try to produce the most elegant manuscripts possible. The materials for covers varied from wood, leather, cardboard, fabrics or even gold and silver. In the late 19th century, publishing and printing underwent enormous changes due to the industrial revolution.
Books bindings changed from the exquisite and delicate hardcover to the carry on and light softback which enabled more artistic possibilities with the cover design and illustration.During the 20th century, Taiwan's cultural transformation resulted from the exchange of visual art between the East and West, such as hardcover. Book bindings at the time integrated with various cultures and traditions into a signature atheistic.
Image 3:Wire Side-Stitching/ Designed Cover, Taiwanese literature（First Issue）, Editor-in- Chief Zhang Wenhuan/ Cover Design Li Shiyi/ Painting Tagaya Freud, 1941, Paper, 15.2x21.1 cm, National Tainan University of the Arts Collection
Influenced by Western-style Cover Designing, many Taiwanese painters, including Lee Shih-chiao, designed magazine covers and illustrations.
It dawned on modern western society just how precious the imagination of children is. Under the influence of western ideology after Meiji Restoration, in order to inspire and foster creativity from children, intellectuals promoted the importance of fables.
When Japanese literature was introduced to Taiwan and China between 1910-1920, more and more people came to realize the unique world of children. To generate more echo, by creating and documenting the life and legends, more authentic original children's books developed.
Other than preschool stories, in this section, combining the collections from Children's Literature Reading Room (1F), we present the growth and development of Taiwanese children literature.
Image 4: Four-hole binding/ Cover design /Limited edition, Cat temple, Nishikawa, 19 9 9, Paper, 1 4.5x20.6 cm, Taiwan Literature Museum, Aletheia University
Children's fantasy stories have been a worldwide sensation since the 19th century.Compared to text-focused books, the illustrations and pictures in Children's fantasy stories make them much easier to comprehend.
With the development of advanced book publication technology,books today are designed to arouse imagination and stimulate the creative senses.
Lishan Scenic Area
Lishan Visitor Center provides information on the attractions in the Lishan Scenic Area, which helps visitors to understand the natural sceneries and cultural characteristics of the Lishan area. The staff reflects the hospitality of the indigenous people, warmly greeting visitors from far and wide. The visitor center is the best first stop to get to know Lishan. For those who love to take pictures, do not miss the free Atayal traditional clothing experience and the “future postal service” postcard delivery service.
科工館是一座充滿趣味性的博物館，透過「科學」與「工藝」的展現，激發了人們探究好奇的本能，再從找尋中獲得了開放性的答案，而科學常常不僅僅只有想，從試著做，做了數次，不斷修改變動才將「想」落實於實際。 一直以來，「培養人人都是科學人」就是科工館的願景目標，而科學與人文亦是密不可分的存在，從歐洲的文藝復興開始，科學的興起革命是建構在人文科學源頭的追尋，自然在培養的過程中，藝術是必要的存在。 悠閒又帶著讓人驚豔的科工館，豐富的趣味體驗和引導、啟發型的科學內涵，是您休憩、旅遊、生活最佳場域。
Welcome to Dadaocheng
Are you tired of the hustle and bustle of big cities? Or are you bored with your mundane life? Why not go on a tour to the old city district right now and experience the past in the present! Dadaocheng is situated along Tamsui River. The name was originated from the big open grounds that were used to sun-dry rice. During Qing dynasty, Taiwanese tea that was exported to other countries built up an excellent reputation. Along with convenient transportation, more and more foreign merchants came to Dadaocheng to do trades and establish business points. Therefore, the neighborhood of Daodaocheng Wharf gradually became the commercial hub of Northern Taiwan. Later on, problems occurred, such as local residents moving away and the siltation of the river, the past glory can no longer be seen. Yet, the relics of the past are still preserved intact in this historical district. Strolling on the old streets, you will see the magnificent and elegant quasi-baroque buildings as well as traditional, simple Minnan street shops. There are also diverse old trading companies that sell souvenirs. Therefore, many tourists visit on holidays to experience the nostalgic atmosphere specific to the old Taipei. Each year, when Lunar New Year is approaching, Dihua Street will turn into a bustling street of New Year goods. Mayor of Taipei City, Ko Wen-je said: “From old historical buildings through unique old streets to all kinds of innovative elements, Dadaocheng is not only a busy old town, but also a living and vibrant urban museum that breaks through spatial imitations.” These words are probably the best portrayal of Dadaocheng. A reminder: Dadaocheng mostly sells breakfast and lunch. Some restaurants close when everything is sold out. If you want to try some delicacies there, remember to go early. Everything will be gone if you arrive too late.
Gazing toward the Mountains
Gazing toward the Mountains